Japan hands top arts prize to filmmaker Coppola, sculptor Gormley

By Paul Casciato

LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, Spanish opera singer Placido Domingo and British sculptor Antony Gormley won three of Japan's top arts prizes, the Japan Art Association said on Tuesday.

Domingo, Gormley and Coppola were joined by British architect David Chipperfield and Italian painter Michelangelo Pistoletto as 2013 laureates of the Praemium Imperiale, a 15 million yen prize which will be handed out on Oct 16. by Japanese Emperor Akihito's younger brother Prince Hitachi.

"The 2013 Praemium Imperiale laureates enrich our lives and touch a common chord of humanity despite geographic and linguistic barriers," Japan Art Association chairman Hisashi Hieda said in a statement.

The prizes, for film, music, sculpture, painting and architecture, were created in 1988 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Japan Art Association and to honour Japan's late Prince Takamatsu.

The 2013 laureates join a roster of past winners who include U.S. playwright Arthur Miller, British artist David Hockney, Canadian architect Frank Gehry and a host of other household names in the arts over the 25 years they have been awarded.

Announced in Tokyo, London, Rome and other cities, the laureates were selected from lists submitted by a panel of international advisers who include former prime ministers, diplomats, politicians and global cultural figures.

In London, BBC Trust Chairman, Oxford University Chancellor and Praemium Imperiale international adviser Chris Patten was on hand at Gormley's Chipperfield-designed studio in north London to announce the prize.

"It's a great way of celebrating the lifetime achievements of two very, very considerable artists," he said.

Gormley and Patten both said the awards, which honour Japan's late 19th century period of cultural renaissance under Emperor Meiji, also demonstrated the cultural and artistic links between Japan and Britain.

Gormley, in camel-coloured trousers flecked with paint, said he has had a long association with Japan stretching back to 1984, and praised Japan's influence on art around the world and its appreciation of global creativity.

"We all know about the early influence of Japanese art on impressionism and post-impressionism, but I think that the traffic the other way has been equally extraordinary," he said.

Gormley - whose giant, rusting, steel "Angel of the North" statue looming over the main traffic artery into northern England has made his art as recognisable as Henry Moore's - said he had a number of projects on the boil in Asia and remained passionate about making public sculpture.

"Sculpture by nature occupies collective space, it's quintessentially the art of participation and collective identification." (Editing by Mike Collett-White)

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