From the Pritzker Prize, "Nobel of Architecture", to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Architecture Medal in 2021, and today the Japanese Praemium Imperiale Prize, one of the most prestigious prizes in the world for architects and other artists, Diébédo Francis Kéré has accumulated, in recent years, the most prestigious international distinctions. Indeed, this Tuesday, September 12, the Japan Art Association distinguished him among the winners of the 34th Praemium Imperiale, a prize considered the “Nobel of the arts”, making him the first African architect to receive a Praemium Imperiale since its creation in 1988, by the imperial family of Japan on behalf of the oldest Japanese cultural foundation.
“Artists are recognized and rewarded for their achievements, for the impact they have had internationally on the arts and for their role in enriching the global community,” underlines the association, which distinguishes artists for their entire career in five fields: painting, sculpture, architecture, music and theater-cinema.
Diébédo Francis Kéré is particularly known for his involvement in projects with strong potential for public use, such as schools, and a number of Kéré's works are located on the African continent, notably in Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Togo, Kenya , and Mozambique. Born in Gando, a small village in Burkina Faso, in 1965, Francis Kéré studied architecture at the Technical University of Berlin from 1995. During these years, he established a foundation to build a primary school in Gando, which he completed in 2001. This landmark project earned him an Aga Khan Award in 2004, a year after completing his studies, which allowed him to establish his eponymous practice in Berlin.
Francis Kéré showed his philosophy, as well as his vision and his approach to architecture through this first building. “We were taught that a school building should be like in France, with concrete and lots of glass, but we don't have the money to do that,” he told the Japan Art Association. “So I had to fight to explain to people that you have to think differently. »
But the 57-year-old architect, who also has German nationality, has long been internationally recognized and has also been commissioned for pavilions and installations in Europe and the United States. The Praemium Imperiale Prize jury highlighted: “His references to his African roots can be found in elements such as the colors of the Sarbalé Ke Pavilion at Coachella (2019), the wooden structures of Xylem (2019) at Tippet's Rise (USA). United), but also through its constant reference to trees – whether for their central role of shade (Serpentine Gallery pavilion, 2017), or because they promote a form of democratic debate. »
Painting Category: Vija Celmins (United States)
Sculpture category: Olafur Eliasson (Denmark, Iceland)
Music Category: Wynton Marsalis (United States)
Architecture Category: Diébédo Francis Kéré (Burkina Faso, Germany)
Theater-Cinema Category: Robert Wilson (United States)
Encouragement prize for young artists:
- Harlem School of the Arts (New York) (United States)
- Rural Studio (Alabama) (United States)