Peter Zumthor, Kabakovs Among 2008 Praemium Imperiale Laureates

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By Stephanie Murg Comment

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(From left: Richard Hamilton, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Peter Zumthor, Zubin Mehta, and Sakata Tojuro)

The Japan Art Association has announced the winners of the twentieth 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 2008 laureates are Peter Zumthor (architecture), Ilya and Emilia Kabakov (sculpture), Richard Hamilton (painting), Zubin Mehta (music), and Sakata Tojuro (theatre/film). Each winner receives 15 million yen (approximately $143,000) and a ticket to Tokyo, where they’ll receive their medals in an October 15 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 98 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.