Profound – in four very different ways

This year’s winners of the Schock Prizes range from the logic of thought to the sounds of music.

Three of Sweden’s academies are responsible for the award of the Schock Prizes every second year. Rolf Schock, philosopher and artist (1933-1986), desired in his will that the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences should choose a prize-winner in logic and philosophy and one in mathematics, that the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts should choose a prize-winner in the visual arts and that the Royal Swedish Academy of Music should choose a prize-winner in the musical arts.

The Rolf Schock Prizes for 2001, each of SEK 500.000 (around $50.000) are being awarded in

Logic and philosophy:
to Saul A. Kripke, Professor Emeritus at Princeton University, USA, “for his creation of the modal-logical semantics that bear his name and for his associated original and profound investigations of identity, reference and necessity”;

to Elliott H. Lieb, Professor at Princeton University, USA, “for his outstanding work in mathematical physics, particularly for his contribution to the mathematical understanding of the quantum-mechanical many-body theory and for his work on exact solutions of models in statistical mechanics and quantum mechanics”;

The visual arts:
to Guiseppe Penone, sculptor, Turin, Italy, “for an artistic achievement that since the 1960s has endeavoured to reconcile mankind and nature. Using predominantly wood as working material he has regained a human root system in a historical process where art and nature in continual dialogue have used forms and materials with the Earth as their starting point”;

The musical arts:
to Kaija Saariaho, composer, Helsinki, Finland, now living in Paris “for creative work of singularly personal expression. Her work spans most genres of music and has aroused much international attention and broad public acceptance”.

More information on the prize-winners’ work below.

The prizes are to be awarded by Princess Christina, Mrs Magnusson, at a ceremony in the Great Hall of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music on 25 October 2001.

The Prize for Logic and Philosophy – fundamental ideas in the IT age
Saul Kripke has worked in and given impulses in, many areas of philosophy and logic. It is for his pioneering contributions to modal logic, metaphysics and the philosophy of language that he is to receive this year’s Schock Prize.

Modal logic investigates the concepts of the necessary and the possible. Kripke’s revolutionising work in this area meant that we for the first time gained access to a simple and very far-reaching mathematical theory that was consonant with our philosophical intuitions. This not only permitted an improved structuring of earlier research results but also drew up new lines for research. The result was an enormous leap forward for modal logic. Today research in the area concerns mathematics as well as philosophy and, above all datology. In philosophy the necessity concept has been important in the distinction between necessary and occasional truths which in various guises have played a large part in philosophy for over two thousand years. Kripke has improved our understanding of this distinction mainly by arguments that necessary truths can sometimes be determined only through empirical investigation. This is connected with his innovative idea in the philosophy of language. He has had decisive significance for the growth of what is termed the new reference theory, which concerns the relation between linguistic expressions and what they denotes.

Saul A. Kripke was born in 1940. The only degree he has taken is a Bachelor of Arts at Harvard University, 1962, but he holds many honorary doctorates. Kripke has taught at Princeton, Harvard and Rockefeller Universities and is now Emeritus McCosh Professor at Princeton. He is an American citizen.
For more information: Lars Bergström, Professor of Philosophy, Stockholm University, tel. +46 8 16 42 09

The Prize for Mathematics – On the Innermost Essence of Matter
Elliott H. Lieb has made pioneering contributions in many areas of mathematics, particularly mathematical analysis and mathematical physics. By exploiting and developing the tools of mathematical analysis in a penetrating and original manner he has contributed to our understanding of many of the fundamental theories of quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics and thermodynamics. Of particular importance is his work on exactly solvable models in statistical mechanics and quantum mechanics, as well as his contribution to our understanding of the quantum-mechanical many-body problem. By studying the distribution of energy within quantum-mechanical systems Lieb and his co-workers have achieved very precise results regarding fundamental questions of the stability of matter.
Lieb’s scientific production is characterised by clarity and originality. His studies of inequalities for functions and operators, as well as his papers on rearrangement inequalities differences have applications in broad areas of mathematics.

Elliott H. Lieb was born in Boston in 1932. He studied at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA and the University of Birmingham, England, where he received his PhD in mathematical physics in 1956. He was Professor of Applied Mathematics at MIT between 1968 and 1973 and of Mathematics and Mathematical Physics at MIT between 1973 and 1975. Since 1975 he is Professor of Mathematics and Physics at Princeton University. Link to home page: For more information: Anders Melin, Professor of Mathematics, Lund University, tel. +46 46 222 85 34

The Prize for the Visual Arts – reconciling nature and civilization
Guiseppe Penone’s first exhibition was in 1968, and represented a firm contradiction of the pictorial culture produced by pop art. Instead of the surfaces and media-associated images of pop art, Penone sought contact with trees and other natural forms. He has for example caused the movements of his own hand to “graft together” with the tree in its process of growth.

Guiseppe Penone’s sculptures also exhibit a multitude of expressions touching both the grotesque and the deeply melancholic while in his whole intention as a artist he has shown what potential art has to heal the wounds that civilisation has often inflicted. With his origins in a Mediterranean culture he has never abandoned the special endeavour of sculpture to ‘pare down to’ life’s inmost core.

One of Penone’s most known works is his tree-trunks “liberated” from their sawn-up existence as logs. From the rough log he has carved the tree and its branches; the latter, though only sketched against the trunk, are restored to their natural attachments. He returns constantly to these works – reinstating nature, rediscovering profundity by forcing open the surfaces that have been compelled to adapt to society’s demands for function and exactness.

If one wishes, one can see in Penone’s work an interesting contradiction between the sculptor’s need to manifest his ideas in clear-cut, three-dimensional forms and the artist’s desire to lay bare what is hardly visible and is linked, rather, with abstract processes of change and transformation through time. Of this kind are his sculptures that portray breathing, rendered as smoke-like substances against a background of forest or as the movements of a body breathing impressed in large clay moulds. And he seeks to draw from leaves the forms the wind gives them, in the same way that he causes water’s imprint to reveal itself in broken earthenware to emphasise what is both fragile and unvanquishable in its eternal movement. Giuseppe Penone was born 1947 in Garessio in Italy. He lives in Turin.

For more information: Beate Sydhoff, Secretary General, The Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts, tel +46 8 23 29 45

The Prize for the Musical Arts – a sound that cannot be silenced
Even when Kaija Saariaho was little, the sound of music within her was so strong that she thought it was coming from under her bed and asked her mother to turn it off. It is not surprising that her music has always been so full of feeling in the form of colours, tones, nuances and very personal musical progressions. At the same time it has often been set off by visual impulses – Saariaho has also studied the visual arts.

Electronic music and the possibilities the computer offered opened a new way for her. Technical sound analysis expanded her own style into a unique synthesis of intellect and emotion. The key to her music is “timbre”, which she grades on a scale from “pure” to “noisy” and its inner structure using terms from “granular” to “smooth”. She bases her music on contradictions, creating tensions that are dissolved like the sound functions of traditional music.

Her greatest success is the opera production L’amour de loin for the 2000 Salzburg Music Festival (conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, director Peter Sellars), a magnificent return to the human voice.

Kaija Saariaho was born in Helsinki, Finland, in 1952. Her first teacher in composition was Paavo Heininen at the Sibelius Academy. Together with Magnus Lindberg and Esa-Pekka Salonen she became involved in the young generation’s resistance movement in Finnish musical life, which led to the founding of the Korvat Auki (“open ears”) Association, of which she also acted as chairperson. She continued her studies at the Freiburg College of Music, from which she also received a diploma. For twenty years she has worked at IRCAM (Institut de Recherche et de Coordination Acoustique-Musique) in Paris.