The Japan Art Association has awarded its ninth annual Praemium Imperiale award to five renowned artists, including British director Peter Brook.Brook, known for his stagings of Shakespeare as well as for experimentation with cross-cultural theater, received the award along with four artists in various fields: Ravi Shankar in music, Richard Meier in architecture, George Segal in sculpture and Gerhard Richter in painting.The Praemium Imperiale was established in 1989 in accordance with the last wishes of Prince Takamatsu, younger brother of the late Emperor Showa, to support the development of art and culture worldwide. The award honors individuals and groups who have contributed to the development and popularization of the arts.In 1971, Brook established the Center for International Theater Research in Paris. The purpose of the center is to “re-examine deeply, fundamentally, destructively, and we hope creatively, all forms by which we live.”Ravi Shankar, born in Banaras, India, has been influential in introducing Indian sitar music to the rest of the world. In addition to touring Europe and the United States as a solo sitarist, he has collaborated with Western artists like violinist Yehudi Menuhin and singer George Harrison. Shankar’s compositions encompass Western classical music, jazz and folk.American architect Richard Meier has designed award-winning civic buildings in the United States and Europe, including the Getty Center in Los Angeles, scheduled to open in December. “Mine is an attempt to clarify and redefine a sense of order within society, to understand then a relationship between what has been and what can be,” Meier has said of his work.George Segal’s work came to the public’s attention in the 1960s as part of the pop art movement. Creating realistic figures cast from live models set in everyday surroundings, he has attempted to convey the spiritual isolation of modern man.German painter Gerhard Richter ranges from pure abstractions to composed landscapes that look nearly photographic in his works. Beginning his art studies in Dresden in 1951, he decided to leave East Germany after discovering the works of Jackson Pollock in 1959.Like many German artists of his generation, Richter is concerned with issues of history and memory, as evidenced by his controversial series of paintings dealing with the deaths of the Baader-Meinhof group of urban terrorists.An awards ceremony honoring the Praemium Imperiale recipients will be held Oct. 22 at Meiji Memorial Hall in Tokyo.

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