Olympic Art Competitions
What I went looking for was art inspired by Olympic competitors. What I discovered was art created by Olympic competitors!
Artists and their works of art were awarded Olympic medals at seven Olympic games from Stockholm in 1912, to London in 1948. Pierre de Frédy, Baron de Coubertin, the founder of the International Olympic Committee and father of the modern Olympics, was an artist himself. He felt that to truly re-create the spirit of the original Athenian Olympics, it was necessary to have “contests for art as they existed in the Olympiads of Ancient Greece, where sport exhibitions walked in equality with artistic exhibitions.” In 1912, de Coubertin won a gold medal in literature for “Ode to Sport”. Another little discovery: Avery Brundage, the American fifth president of the IOC, won an honourable mention for literature in 1932.
“Corner” and “Rugby” (“Etude de Sport”) by Jean Jacoby of Luxembourg were awarded the Olympic Gold in the “Paintings, Drawings and Watercolours “category in Paris 1924.
Carlo Pellegrini of Italy won Gold for his “Winter Sports” painting in the 1912 Stockholm Olympic Art Competitions.
“An America Trotter” won Walter Winans the distinction of being one of only two Olympians to win medals as both an athlete (in shooting) and an artist.
The other was the Hungarian swimmer Alfred Hajós. His plan for a stadium, (with Dezső Lauber in tennis), was awarded the silver medal; the jury did not award a gold medal in the competition that year.
Henriette Brossin de Polanska won a silver medal for France
Sadly, many of the original creations from the era of the Arts Olympics have been lost. More on Olympic art in a later blog.
- From 1912 to 1948, Art Competitions Were Part of the Olympics (mentalfloss.com)
- Olympic Overtures: Classical Music at the Games (wqxr.org)
- Art Inspired by Sport at Olympics (centeredonart.wordpress.com)