Zaha Hadid, Hiroshi Sugimoto Among 2009 Praemium Imperiale Laureates

(From left: Hiroshi Sugimoto, Richard Long, Zaha Hadid, Alfred Brendel, and Tom Stoppard)

Today the Japan Art Association announced the winners of the twenty-first Praemium Imperiale, the international arts prize established “in memory of His Imperial Highness Prince Takamatsu to celebrate the human spirit as expressed through the genius of the world’s artists.” The 2009 laureates are Zaha Hadid (architecture), Hiroshi Sugimoto (painting, a category that apparently encompasses photography), Richard Long (sculpture), Tom Stoppard (theater/film), and Alfred Brendel (music). Each winner receives 15 million yen (approximately $165,000 at current exchange rates) and a ticket to Tokyo, where they’ll receive their medals in an October 22 ceremony headlined by Prince Hitachi of Japan, who Wikipedia describes as “currently fourth in line to the Chrysanthemum throne.” This year’s crop of Praemium Imperiale laureates joins a roster of 104 artists that includes everyone from Frank Gehry and Jasper Johns to Ingmar Bergman and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Artists are nominated for the prize through international committees in each of the five fields that make recommendations to the Japan Art Association’s board of trustees, which ultimately selects the winners.