On March 15, the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology awarded artist Takashi Murakami the Art Encouragement Prize, Minister Award for fine arts, in recognition of his latest solo exhibition “The 500 Arhats” at Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum. The content of the show, which included a 100-meter-long painting of the 500 enlightened followers of Buddha, was created in response to the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami that devasted Japan in 2011.
This year marked the 66th edition of the annual award, which was established in 1950 to recognize innovation and outstanding achievements in the fields of theatre, film, music, dance, literature, fine art, broadcasting, traditional performance, arts development, critical theory and media arts. A winner each for the Minister Award and Newcomer Award is selected for the 11 individual categories. The Minister Award and Newcomer Award comprises a JPY 300,000 (USD 2,640) and JPY 200,000 (USD 1,760) cash prize, respectively.
In the category of fine arts, the Newcomer Award was given to fashion designer Akira Minagawa for his retrospective exhibition “1∞ MINAKAKERU.” Additional noted winners in other categories included artist Katsuhiko Hibino, who was selected for the Minister Award in arts development for his work as the artistic director of last year’s Roppongi Art Night, an annual one-night event that features all-night contemporary art, design, music, video and performance art events across the eponymous shopping district of Tokyo.
Previous winners of the government’s Art Encouragement Prize include Yayoi Kusama (2000), Yasumasa Morimura (2007) and Katsura Funakoshi (2009), among others.