LONDON (AP) — Moviemaker Francis Ford Coppola and opera singer Placido Domingo are among five winners of a lucrative award that has been dubbed the "Nobel Prize of the arts."

British sculptor Antony Gormley, Italian artist Michelangelo Pistoletto and British architect David Chipperfield were also announced Tuesday as winners of the Japan Art Association's Praemium Imperiale Awards, which come with a 15 million yen ($150,000) purse.

Gormley said it was an honor to receive a prize from Japan, whose deep artistic heritage and strong tradition of arts philanthropy should inspire Western artists.

"I owe Japan a lot," said Gormley, who has completed several projects in the country. "The extraordinary tradition of making in Japan, ancient and modern ... is an inspiration to anyone who visits."

Founded in 1989, the awards are open to visual and performing artists and architects of any nationality. Winners are chosen by the Japan Art Association based on recommendations from international advisers.

Previous winners include Italian screen star Sophia Loren, American composer Philip Glass, Indian musician Ravi Shankar and Italian director Federico Fellini.

This year's recipients will receive their awards from Japan's Prince Hitachi at a ceremony on Oct. 16.

The 2013 laureates range from Coppola, the American director of the "Godfather" films, to Spanish tenor Domingo and Pistoletto, a founder of the radical "arte povera" modern art movement.

Gormley is one of the world's best-known sculptors, whose works include "The Angel of the North," a giant sculpture of a winged figure that stands beside a highway in northeast England.

Chipperfield has designed buildings including Berlin's rebuilt Neues Museum and the Hepworth Wakefield gallery in England.

Former British Cabinet minister Chris Patten, one of the prize's advisers, said it was gratifying that British artists were strongly, even disproportionately, represented.

He said British winners of the prize — from painter David Hockney to composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, playwright Tom Stoppard and actress Judi Dench — represented "a pretty good roll call of the Premiership of the British cultural scene" over the past quarter century.

Speaking at his north London studio — a building designed by Chipperfield — Gormley said Britain and Japan had a lot in common.

"We are both cultures that live in a small group of islands," he said. "We share a kind of social repression.

"The stiff upper lip might be shared by a Samurai warrior as well as a Victorian member of Parliament. But underneath that reserve there is enormous passion and intelligence, and often that's expressed in very, very extraordinary ways."


Jill Lawless can be reached at


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