Johann Wolfgang Goethe was a prolific German writer whose body of work extends from lyrical prose and aesthetic criticism, to scientific endeavors . Fame came to him at the early age of 25, which by today’s standards might be relatively old, but in the late 18th century this was quite a feat. He influenced academia, intellectuals, and thinkers in the 19th century, and he continues to do so to this day.
Those who provide an unparalleled service to German language and culture, as Goethe did, are rewarded for their contribution in the name of a man whose list of accomplishments seems nearly endless.
This official prize, awarded by the Federal Republic of Germany, has come a long way since it was established by the Goethe Institute in 1955. The award ceremony is usually held on March 22nd, which marks Johann-Wolfgang von Goethe’s death anniversary, but after 2008 it got moved forward to August 28th, his birthdate. For every prize award, there is a different theme. This year’s theme was ‘Migration of Cultures – Cultures of Migration’, due to the immense influx of refugees in recent times.
This year’s winners
Akinbode Akinbiyi: An Oxford-born photographer with Nigerian roots who is said to have built one of the most important artistic connections between Germany and Sub-Saharan Africa. His photography about migration movement in big African cities will be portrayed at Documenta 14 in Kassel in 2017.
David Lordkipanidze: A Russian archaeologist with an impressive academic background, who found hominin fossils in the Southern Caucasus. He was awarded the prize for his continued pursuit of international relationships with scientists and museums.
The ceremony took place in the castle of Weimar, the city where Goethe lived out his last days.