Art Competitions at the Olympics
The art competitions was part of the vision of the founder of the Olympics, Pierre de Coubertin. Beginning at Stockholm in 1912, the Olympics included an arts competition. 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. As medals were awarded in five categories, the competitions were also named the ‘Pentathlon of the Muses’.
This event was held between 1912 and 1948. As the majority of artists competing were professionals, and the IOC opposed professional competitions at the time, the event was removed. Since 1956, an Olympic cultural program has taken place, replacing the art competitions.
Art Competition Trivia
- The founder of the modern Olympic Games, Pierre de Coubertin, won a gold medal for literature at the 1912 Games. He entered under the pseudonym "Georges Hohrod and Martin Eschbach". Another athlete who would later become presidents of the International Olympic Committee, Avery Brundage, competed as an athlete at the 1912 Games, then entered literary works at the 1932 and 1936 Olympics.
- Walter Winans is the only person to win gold medals for both art and sports competitions. He won a gold medal in the shooting running deer (double shot) competition in 1908, and a gold medal for his sculpture 'An American trotter' in 1912. One other athlete won medals in both fields is Hungarian Alfréd Hajós. He won two gold medals at the 1896 Athens Olympics in swimming, then 28 years later won silver in architecture for his stadium design, co-designed with Dezső Lauber.