fujiko nakaya awarded 2018 praemium imperiale for sculpture

fujiko nakaya awarded 2018 praemium imperiale for sculpture

each year, five individuals across the fields of painting, sculpture, architecture, music and theater/film are awarded the global arts prize praemium imperiale. for this year’s edition, fujiko nakaya has been announced as laureate for the sculpture category. the esteemed award is given by the japan art association where the individual is chosen for their distinguishable achievements within their profession.

fujiko nakaya awarded 2018 praemium imperiale for sculpture designboom
guggenheim museum bilbao, spain, with fog installation by fujiko nakaya and a part of the la salve bridge
image by nikopol / CC-BY-SA-3.0



world-renowned as the ‘fog artist’, fujiko nakaya graduated from the art department of northwestern university in illinois, USA. after experimenting with painting, in 1966 she joined E.A.T. (experiments in art and technology), an experimental group formed by engineer billy klüver, artist robert rauschenberg (praemium imperiale laureate in 1998), and others to promote the collaboration between art and technology. as part of this activity with E.A.T., nakaya presented her first fog sculpture using artificial fog at the pepsi pavilion during the osaka expo 1970 where a white fog completely enwrapped the pavilion.

fujiko nakaya awarded 2018 praemium imperiale for sculpture designboom
FOGSCAPE #47412 at the sapporo art museum
image by by keizo kioku / courtesy of creative city sapporo, international art festival executive committee



throughout her career, fujiko nakaya has wrapped with fog iconic structures like the glass house and the sapporo art museum. she generates the artificial fog using a high-pressure pump and a cluster of custom-developed fine spray nozzles. the fog detects the environment of each site — weather conditions, irregularity of the ground, trees and shrubs — and moves along with the wind while resonating with the atmosphere. the poetic character of this ephemeral material is that it makes invisible the visible and at the same time it makes the invisible, like wind, visible.

fujiko nakaya awarded 2018 praemium imperiale for sculpture designboom
london fog, 2017
BMW tate live exhibition: ten days six nights, tate modern, london
dance: min tanaka
light: shiro takatani
courtesy of fujiko nakaya



installed in more than 80 locations around the world, nakaya’s fog sculptures come in various forms — environmental sculptures using pure water fog, installations, performances, or parks that work as a medium to connect humans and nature. although most of them have been temporal, there is one fog sculpture that has been exhibited for nearly 40 years — foggy wake in a desert: an ecosphere (canberra, 1983 – ) displayed at the national gallery of australia.

fujiko nakaya awarded 2018 praemium imperiale for sculpture designboom
foggy forest, 1992.
children’s forest, showa kinen park, tachikawa, tokyo
courtesy of fujiko nakaya
photo by shigeo ogawa



fujiko nakaya’s interest in the environment was strongly influenced by her father, the experimental physicist ukichiro nakaya (1900 – 1962), who created the first artificial snow crystal in the world. as a natural scientist, ukichiro’s modesty when facing nature, and his trust and devotion to what he studied, was unparalleled. from her father, nakaya learnt to think through other’s feelings and to thereby enliven the other.

fujiko nakaya awarded 2018 praemium imperiale for sculpture designboom
fog sculpture #47773pepsi paviliion, 1970
photo by fujiko nakaya



her latest works include a fog artwork inside the tate modern’s new building and in 2019 she will work on projects in japan, US and the netherlands. the first large-scale retrospective of nakaya’s work will be on view at art tower mito in japan from october 27, 2018 to january 20,2019.

fujiko nakaya awarded 2018 praemium imperiale for sculpture designboom
fujiko nakaya receiving the praemium imperiale prize for sculpture

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