Founder Robert Wilson Receives
Praemium Imperiale Global Art Prize
WASHINGTON, DC, September 12, 2023 – Robert Wilson, Founder and Artistic Director of The Watermill Center, an interdisciplinary laboratory for the arts and humanities located in Water Mill, NY (est. 1992), was honored alongside musician Wynton Marsalis and painter Vija Celmins at The White House for the 34th Annual Praemium Imperiale Global Art Prize, hosted by First Lady Dr. Jill Biden. Former Secretary of State & International Advisor to the Praemium Imperiale Hillary Rodham Clinton presented the prestigious awards to each laureate, in her first public appearance at The White House since the Obama Administration, alongside Hisashi Hieda, Chairman of the Japan Art Association. Honorary Advisor to the Praemium Imperiale, David Rockefeller Jr., also shared remarks ahead of the laureate recognition.
Secretary Clinton introduced Wilson as a “true pioneer: he has created some of the most important and memorable works in contemporary theater and opera. With his stunning set designs, his arresting lighting, his innovative choreography, he helped reinvent a stage where time and space are redrawn, and the experience of narrative is reimagined.”
First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and Secretary Clinton both spoke to the importance of art across time and international borders. Senator Clinton observed, “During a time in which so much is happening to change the way we work, live and connect with one another, and how we relate to the rest of the world, it is so important for us to recognize the critical role the arts play in helping us understand our past and present, while inspiring us to create a better future”.
In her introductory remarks, Dr. Jill Biden stated “The artists we honor today invite us to join a conversation with the world, to step beyond the limits of our imagination. It is a conversation that speaks across borders, languages and centuries as we tilt our heads to see just one more angle, bend our ears to take in just one more note, our hearts and hopes to reach toward each other. And in that moment, we feel the hum of the generations that are past and future”.
Robert Wilson founded The Watermill Center with the purpose of supporting artists and thinkers from across different cultures and backgrounds. A place where “artists can look to the past, as we create art of our time, and to look to the world community, as we enrich our own”. As a globally recognized Artists Residency program, The Watermill Center has hosted over 1,400 artists from more than 90 countries, and continues to be a laboratory for the arts and humanities providing a global community the time, space and freedom to create and inspire.
After the ceremony, Robert Wilson and Mikhail Baryshnikov celebrated the honor at an intimate dinner party with other attendees in Washington DC.
Honorees for this year’s award include: Vija Celmins (Painting, USA); Olafur Eliasson (Sculpture, Iceland/Denmark); Diébédo Francis Kéré (Architecture, Burkina Faso/Germany); Wynton Marsalis (Music, USA); and Robert Wilson (Theatre/Film, USA).
Guests in attendance include: Congresswoman Doris Matsui and Congressman Frank Pallone; Secretary Deb Haaland; Ambassador Katherin Tai; His Excellency Koji Tomita; His Excellency Mr. Kimihiro Ishikane; Mikhail Baryshnikov; Nora Halpern; Misha Collins and Carla Canales.