09 August 2012

Olympic medals in art, literature, and music

"The Olympics used to include art competitions. Between 1912 and 1952, medals were awarded in architecture, literature, music, painting, and sculpture... An exhibition at the 1932 games drew 384,000 visitors to the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science and Art...

The categories included epic literature, chamber music, watercolors, and statuary; the 1928 games even included a competition in town planning.

In two cases champion athletes also won art competitions. Hungarian swimmer Alfréd Hajós, left, who had won two gold medals in Athens in 1896, took home a silver medal for designing a stadium in 1924. And American Walter Winans won gold both as a marksman in 1908 and as a sculptor in 1912.

In 1954 the art competitions were dropped because most of the participants were professionals, which was held to conflict with the ideals of the games. But the Olympic charter still requires hosts to include a cultural program “to promote harmonious relations, mutual understanding and friendship among the participants and others attending the Olympic Games.”"
Text found in the Futility Closet.  Image ("Jean Jacoby is the only artist to win two gold medals. He won his second with the above drawing, titled Rugby") credit here.  Additional information at Wikipedia.

You learn something every day.

Reposted from 2011.


  1. Being an artist and someone who has studied art history, this was actually a surprise to me. I don't think a lot of people realize that people used to win Olympic medals in art, which makes me wonder what those people who design all the mascots, the new stadiums and all of the various things associated with the Olympic games are getting. I'm probably going to say not medals, considering that awful Izzy design from the Atlanta Olympics.

  2. That is insane! So the geeky arty kids who couldn't catch a ball could technically win an Olympic medal? Haha!


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