Artist Cai Guo-Qiang First Chinese Winner Of Japan’s Praemium Imperiale

Cai’s 2008 “Footprints in the Sky” Cited By Awards Committee

Cai Guo-Qiang, Project for the Year of the Dragon No. 2

One of China’s best-known (and certainly most globetrotting) contemporary artists, Cai Guo-Qiang, can add yet another award to his already impressive résumé: Praemium Imperiale Laureate. Along with composer Philip Glass, Danish architect Henning Larsen, Japanese ballerina Yoko Morishita, and Italian sculptor Cecco Bonanotte, this week Cai was announced as a winner of Japan’s Praemium Imperiale, an international arts prize sponsored by the Japan Art Association and patronized by the Japanese royal family.

Inaugurated in 1989, the Praemium Imperiale includes a 15 million yen (US$192,600) prize, with a diploma and medal set to be presented by Prince Hitachi in Tokyo on October 23. Winners of last year’s awards included Bill Viola, Anish Kapoor, Ricardo Legorreta, Seiji Ozawa, and Judi Dench.

Cai, the first Chinese winner of the Praemium Imperiale, was cited by the committee for works such as his 2008 “Footprints in the Sky,” part of the opening ceremony at the Beijing Olympic Games. Most recently, Cai showed his latest exhibition, “Sky Ladder” — consisting of a gunpowder-charged performance, “Mystery Circle,” a suspended installation entitled “Crop Circle,” and three gunpowder paintings (including the 108-foot-wide piece “Childhood Spaceship”) — at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA.

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Art & Auction, Culture