Cai Guo-Qiang Honored with the Praemium Imperiale
||It is the
Nobel Prize of the arts. The Praemium Imperiale, endowed with a purse of around
160,000 euros, is given every year to important artists in the fields of
painting, sculpture, architecture, music and film or theater. Cai Guo-Qiang is
the first Chinese artist to receive the prize, which has been awarded by the
Japanese imperial family since 1989. Cai received the Praemium Imperiale in the
painting category. His “Gunpowder Drawings,” which he executes by igniting
gunpowder on large pieces of paper, have radically expanded the boundaries of
the medium. With the prize, the Japan Art Association honors artists for their
life’s work and the worldwide social importance of their work. The Praemium
Imperiale is presented by Prince Hitachi, an honorary patron of the
Japan Art Association, during
an awards ceremony held on October 23 in Tokyo. In addition to Cai, the other
laureates this year include Danish architect Henning Larsen and U.S. composer
Philip Glass. To date, 119 artists have received the award, including Tony
Cragg, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Rebecca Horn, Anish Kapoor, Sigmar Polke and
Gerhard Richter, all of whom are represented in the Deutsche Bank Collection.
closely connected with Deutsche Bank’s art activities. His exhibition project Head On was on view at the Deutsche Guggenheim in 2006. The artist had
conceived the three-part work complex for the Berlin museum. The video Illusion II shows one of Cai’s pyrotechnical stagings, for which he had a
small house blown up in a dazzling fireworks display. The wall-sized gunpowder
drawing Vortex was executed in the atrium of the Deutsche Bank building on
Unter den Linden. Head On, the installation from which the title of the
exhibition was taken, consists of 99 life-sized wolves that hurl against a
glass wall. It was directly inspired by the history of the German capital.
After the premiere in Berlin, the work was also shown, as part of a large Cai
retrospective at the Guggenheim museums in New York and Bilbao. Subsequently,
the pack of wolves was presented in Beijing, Taipeh and Singapore. An entire
floor of Deutsche Bank’s Head Office in Frankfurt is devoted to Cai’s work.
Aside from preliminary drawings for Head On, project sketches for Deutsche
Bank’s Moment art series, for which art actions were realized in public
spaces, are on exhibit here.
Quanzhou, China, in 1957, Cai Guo-Qiang went to Japan in 1986, and then to New
York in 1995, where he has lived ever since. In 2005, he curated the first
Chinese Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. In the summer of 2008, hundreds of millions
of TV viewers watched spectacular stagings created by the artist. As Director
of Visual and Special Effects, he was the chief designer of the fireworks
displays during the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics.