Thursday, February 13, 2014

Olympic Art

The road to the Olympics, leads to no city, no country. It goes far beyond New York or Moscow, ancient Greece or Nazi Germany. The road to the Olympics leads — in the end — to the best within us.
~Jesse Owens

Statue of doves bringing an olive wreath to Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games, Centennial Olympic Park, Atlanta, photo by Robert Neff

Did you know that some people won Olympic medals for the arts? A few years ago, I featured paintings by Olympic medal winner Jack Butler Yeats (poet William Butler Yeats' brother). Here's some more info about the Olympic arts competitions:
Art competitions were part of the Olympic program from 1912 to 1948. Medals were awarded in five categories (architecture, literature, music, painting, and sculpture), for works inspired by sport-related themes.

At a meeting of the International Olympic Committee in 1949, it was decided to hold art exhibitions instead, as it was judged illogical to permit professionals to compete in the art competitions but only amateurs were permitted to compete in sporting events. Since 1952, a non-competitive art and cultural festival has been associated with each Games. (Wikipedia)
I don't have the paintings that won the medals, but here are other paintings by those artists, plus a close-up look at a medal, and an Olympic park sculpture:

At the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam, Laura Knight won the Silver Medal in Painting with the painting Boxer (1917).

The Nuremberg Trial, 1946
by Laura Knight

A barrage balloon being hoisted into position, outside Coventry, 1943.
by Laura Knight

Isaac Israëls won a Gold Medal at the 1928 Olympic Games for his painting Red Rider.

Painting of Mata Hari, 1916
by Isaac Israëls

Transport of colonial soldiers
by Isaac Israëls

Jean Jacoby won Olympic gold medals in the Olympic art competitions of 1924 AND 1928.

by Jean Jacoby (1891-1936)

John Woodruff's gold Medal from the XI Olympic Games, Berlin, Germany, 1936.
photo by Darryl Bishop

The Seoul Olympic Park, 1986
U.S. Army photo by Edward N. Johnson

* Sochi Cultural Olympiad (and an article about it)
* London 2012 Cultural Olympiad (and an article about it)
* The Commission for Culture and Olympic Education
* All Time Medal Count for Art Contests

One more quote from Olympian Jesse Owens: “The battles that count aren’t the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself – the invisible, inevitable battles inside all of us – that’s where it’s at.”


HWY said...

I didn't know about the Olympic medals for the Arts (1912-48)...thanks for the info!

The works you've shown are great; I especially liked Laura Knight's work. It's amazing that her painting Boxer isn't on-line somewhere. :-(

Tabatha said...

Laura Knight's work is wonderful! I'm not sure whether this is the painting in question, but you can see Boxing Match here: