LONDON, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) -- Two leading British art figures have been awarded an international arts prize for their contribution to culture.
The two art figures are sculptor Antony Gormley and architect David Chipperfield.
Both men were awarded the Praemium Imperiale, awarded by the Japan Art Association, and will each collect a 100,000-pound (about 159,000 U.S. dollars) prize at a ceremony in Tokyo this October.
Gormley is famous for his work in public places, which often involve moulds of the human body.
These are sometimes set in multiples or individually in giant size, such as his iconic piece 'The Angel of the North' which stands 20 meters high.
Gormley commonly uses steel, and the moulds are often of Gormley's own body.
Gormley learnt of the award at his north London factory studio, which coincidentally had been designed by Chipperfield.
Gormley explained to Xinhua what lay behind his works, many of which have caught the public imagination such as 'The Angel of the North' which has been accepted as a symbol of post-industrial regeneration for a whole region.
He said, "I make things, rather than images, which are less about representation than interrogation of the world."
Gormley draws a distinction between traditional Western art traditions like painting.
He said, "You are having to manufacture something rather than register it on the surface. But the rewards are far greater, as far as I am concerned, because you have something that is palpable and visual but also intelligible and which changes the world by the mere fact of bringing something new into it. There has to be a displacement and shift in the world, and I think that is the radical difference between sculpture and painting."
Painting existed on a wall or a canvas, said Gormley, but sculpture existed in the elements.
"That is something I am passionate about. By nature it occupies collective space. It is quintessentially the art of participation and collective identification and in a sense since (Marcel) Duchamp the energy has always been in taking the bicycle wheel from the street and putting it in the gallery," said Gormley.
He added, "I am much more interested in the alternative stream of making something in the highly concentrated environment of a studio like this and then putting it on the street, in the world, on a beach, putting it somewhere in a way where its identity as art is not the precondition of its experience, and that people can have an experience of this foreign body in their world."
Gormley's works often occupy and benefit from a significant site in the landscape, and he makes no attempt to hide the effects of the weather on his works.
In his workshop are several of his trademark body form sculptures in steel, which have been placed in the open air to allow rain and moisture to create a rust patina. This both changes the pieces and protects them from further erosion.
A current major project includes 'Model' which is set to go on display in Xiamen in Fujian Province in China.
'Model', which went on show in London at the end of last year, is made from 100 tonnes of sheet steel, and forms a human outline which the public can walk through.
Gormley said he also had projects over the next year in Hong Kong.
Another prize winner this year is architect David Chipperfield, whose buildings in China include Lianzhu Cultural Museum at Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province.
Other international projects that Chipperfield has undertaken include the award-winning Neues Museum in Berlin, and the America's Cup Building in Valencia in Spain.
The Praemium Imperiale is an annual award. Other internationally famous artists honored this year include opera singer Placido Domingo, and film director Francis Ford Coppola. (1 pound = 1.59 U.S. dollars)