Olympic Games Art Competitions
Art competitions were held as part of the modern Olympic Games between 1912 and 1948. All of the entered works had to be inspired by sport, and had to be original and not previously published. Medals were awarded in five categories: architecture, literature, music, painting, and sculpture. Since 1956, there has been held an Olympic cultural program to replace the art competitions.
- The Olympic Games art competitions were also named the ‘Pentathlon of the Muses’, as medals were awarded in five categories.
- For the 1936 Summer Olympics, the German government proposed the addition of a film contest to the program, which was rejected.
- The Soviet artists submitted works to the 1920 Olympic art competition even though the Soviet Union officially did not take part in those Olympic Games.
- In 1928, the artists were allowed to sell their works at the close of the exhibition, a controversial move considering the IOC's policy at the time which required all competitors to be amateurs.
- Luxembourg painter Jean Jacoby is the most successful Olympic artist, winning two gold medals.
- As it was allowed for artists to submit several works of art, it was possible for them to win more than one medal in a single event, as Alex Diggelmann of Switzerland did in the graphic arts category in 1948, a bronze one and a silver for two commercial posters.
- Two people have won Olympic medals in both Olympic Games sport and art competitions. American Walter Winans, won gold (1908) and silver (1912) in shooting, and a gold medal for sculpture (1912). The other is Hungarian Alfréd Hajós who won two gold medals at the 1896 Olympics in swimming, and 28 years later won a silver medal in architecture.
- Two presidents of the International Olympic Committee have also been among the entrants in the Olympic art competitions. Pierre de Coubertin entered the 1912 competition under the pseudonym "Georges Hohrod and Martin Eschbach", winning the gold medal. Avery Brundage, an athlete at the 1912 Games and later the IOC's president from 1952 to 1971, entered literary works at the 1932 and 1936 Olympics, earning an honorary mention in 1932.
- In 1948 British graphic artist John Copley was awarded the Silver medal for his design "Polo Player" just about a month before his 74th birthday. This makes him the oldest Olympic medalist ever.