Praemium Imperiale Logo

Praemium Imperiale Logo

NEW YORK, Sept. 14, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The Japan Art Association announced the recipients of the 32nd PRAEMIUM IMPERIALE, the world's largest and most prestigious art prize. The 2021 recipients, who have been recognized for their outstanding individual achievements, their impact on the arts internationally, and their role in enriching the global community, are:


Sebastião Salgado  



James Turrell      



Glenn Murcutt   



Yo-Yo Ma      



No recipient

Each recipient will receive an honorarium of 15 million yen ($136,000), a medal and a testimonial letter.

Due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, no recipient was selected in the Theatre/Film category this year, as many of the candidates were unable to fulfil the requirements for the award.

"This year's Praemium Imperiale laureates represent the pinnacle of artistic achievement in each of their fields and have inspired, engaged, and connected global communities through their exceptional  talent, dedication and work," said Hisashi Hieda, chairman of the Japan Art Association. "We are deeply honored they have chosen to accept this year's award and join the distinguished past laureates who have redefined how the arts can build and shape a better world."

"I am convinced that it is the passion of artists that will help us overcome all hardships and become a force for change in the world, bringing peace and prosperity to mankind," said former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has been appointed as International Advisor to the Praemium Imperiale by the Japan Art Association to preside over the Asian Nomination Committee.

Since 1988, the Praemium Imperiale has grown to become a powerful voice for the importance of the arts in today's world, recognizing outstanding achievement similar to the Nobel Prize in the Sciences and Literature.

"I feel very honored to be given this distinction because I have always felt close to Japan and have the utmost respect for Japanese culture," said Sebastião Salgado. "As a Brazilian, I can say that Japan matters a great deal to us."

"I am grateful to receive the Praemium Imperiale and feel its international reputation is deserved and enhanced by its previous recipients," said James Turrell. "It is a vital part of Japan's role in making an international culture."

"The Praemium lmperiale is a wonderful cultural gift to the arts, internationally," said Glenn Murcutt. "Being a 2021 recipient took me by complete surprise; it is simply wonderful for me but especially for the profession of Architecture in Australia. Even at 85, such an award encourages me to continue working for as long as I am able."

"I am deeply honored to be receiving the Praemium Imperiale," said Yo-Yo Ma. "I have tried to live not seeking honor but to do my best to live honorably, so to receive this unexpected honor is very humbling. I can only accept by thanking those who have made me, helped form me, and helped me on a journey of exploration and discovery, and to them I am deeply grateful."

For bios and images of the 2021 Praemium Imperiale laureates, please click here (please note, this site is password protected. Reach out to media contact listed above for site password).

In addition to awarding prizes across the five disciplines of Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, Music, and Theatre/Film, each year the Praemium Imperiale also recognizes a group or institution that encourages the involvement of young people in the arts with its Grant for Young Artists.

The 2021 Grant for Young Artists has been awarded to The Advanced Training School of the Central Institute for Restoration (Italy).

The group will receive a grant of 5 million yen ($45,000) and an official diploma recognizing their achievement.

This year marks the return of the Praemium Imperiale's awards after last year's awards and ceremony were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Out of a concern for the health and safety of all participants, no in-person award ceremony will be held this year in Tokyo. Each recipient will receive an award in October at the Japanese Embassy or Consulate General of Japan in the recipient's country of residence.


Award recipients are selected based upon the recommendations of committees led by international advisors who are prominent statesmen and business leaders. Current advisors to the Praemium Imperiale include: Lamberto Dini (former Prime Minister of Italy), Christopher Patten (Chancellor of the University of Oxford), Klaus-Dieter Lehmann (former President of the Goethe-Institut), Jean-Pierre Raffarin (former Prime Minister of France), and Shinzo Abe (former Prime Minister of Japan). Honorary advisors include: David Rockefeller, Jr. (Trustee of the Museum of Modern Art, New York), François Pinault (President of Pinault Foundation of Contemporary Art), and William H. Luers (former President of the Metropolitan Museum of Art). U.S. International Advisor Caroline Kennedy, former U.S. Ambassador to Japan, has resigned as International Advisor in August 2021. She has served as International Advisor since 2018. Her successor has yet to be announced.

The committee recommendations are reviewed by selection committees in the Japan Art Association with final approval of laureates granted by the Board of Trustees of the Association.


The 2021 laureates join a roster of 160 world renowned artists who previously won the award, including Mikhail Baryshnikov, Ingmar Bergman, Shirin Neshat, Mona Hatoum, Leonard Bernstein, Cindy Sherman, Youssou N'Dour, William Kentridge, El Anatsui, Peter Brook, Judi Dench, Hiroshi Sugimoto Frank Gehry, Jean-Luc Godard, Phillip Glass, David Hockney, Willem de Kooning, I.M. Pei, Akira Kurosawa, Steve Reich, Renzo Piano, Robert Rauschenberg, Ravi Shankar, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Billie Tsein and Tod Williams, and Steven Holl. Find a full list of previous winners here.

The young artists also join a long list of distinguished recipients dating back to 1997, when the inaugural Grant for Young Artists was given to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Praemium Imperiale. Find a full list of previous grantees here.


Established in 1887, The Japan Art Association is the oldest cultural foundation in Japan. It operates the Ueno Royal Museum located in the Ueno Park in Tokyo and organizes and holds art exhibitions. Honorary patrons have been members of the Imperial Household beginning with Prince Arisugawa, and since 1987 Prince Hitachi.

For further information, please visit the Association's website.


The Praemium Imperiale was established in 1988 to commemorate the centennial of the Japan Art Association, and to realize the wish of its honorary patron for 58 years, Japan's late Prince Takamatsu, "to contribute to enhancing and promoting the cultures and arts of the world." 

The awards honor individuals or groups from around the world for outstanding contributions to the development, promotion and progress of the arts. The prize is awarded in the categories of painting, sculpture, architecture, music and theatre/film. Each laureate receives an honorarium of 15 million yen, a testimonial letter and medal.

The Praemium Imperiale also awards a Grant for Young Artists to a group or institution that encourages the involvement of young people in the arts. The grant was inaugurated in 1997 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Praemium Imperiale.

For more information on the Praemium Imperiale, please visit their website.

CONTACT: Laurie | 516-376-0356

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