Delight of the Gods
A natural sequel to my last blog post on art created BY Olympians is art created to inspire Olympians. The words above were written by Pierre Coubertin in his “Ode to Sport” which won a gold medal in literature at the 1912 Olympics. Coubertin (the father of the modern Olympics) wanted the Olympics to be more than technique. This was made manifest in the artistic representations of the ideals of the games.
In 1914, Coubertin commissioned Edouard Elzingre to create a souvenir
poster for the 20th anniversary of the reintroduction of the Olympic games.
Elzingre’s lithograph shown above depicts a victorious athlete, wearing his olive
wreath (as in the original Greek games, a symbol of peace and victory),
returning home as a hero.
Other artistic symbols perpetuated Coubertin’s ideals of the
internationality of athletic competition with human values of both body
and spirit being paramount.
Nikephoros Lytras, one of the most renowned Greek artists of his time,
designed the 1896 medal. One side shows the phoenix rising from the ashes
with a figure representing Greece holding the wreath:
David Watkins designed the London 2012 medal. It continues the tradition
of the Greek figure of Nike (Winged Goddess of Victory) with the Panathinaiko
Stadium in the background. On the reverse there is a tribute to the host
country, with the River Thames and the London Games logo:
The Olympic rings symbol instantly stirs emotions at the most ordinary of
times. The Olympic rings in Olympic Park have apparently stirred enough
emotion to produce more rings – there have been at least 25 marriage
proposals in the park by romantic sports fans.
Imagine the sensation as these London rings – 25 metres wide and 11.5
metres tall – were lowered into place on the Tower Bridge. The rings,
which weigh three tons, cost £259,817 (approximately $407,562) to produce. Installation
is estimated to have cost £53,000, approximately $83,139.
- The Meaning of the Olympic Rings (neatorama.com)
- Olympic Art Competitions (zatista.com)
- Seeing The World Through The Olympic Rings [Infographic] (npr.org)
- Full moon forms sixth Olympic Ring in spectacular Tower Bridge snap (thesun.co.uk)