Olympic gold medalist in art? Not after 1948…

Posted: April 17, 2013 in Uncategorized


In 1948 there was an interesting change in the world of art as it relates to the Olympic games.  From the very first “modern” Olympic games, the 1912 games, there were art competition events that the winners were awarded Olympic medals.  The International Olympic Committee (IOC) founder, Pierre de Coubertin, wanted to bring together art with athletic events, which was achieved by the art events in the Olympics.  There were five separate events: music, literature, sculpture, painting, and architecture.  Each artistic peace had to relate to the spirit of the Olympic games and had to have been completed within the four years since the prior games.  It’s difficult to imagine earning a gold medal for a sculpture created by an amateur (no professionals could compete).

After 1948 however, the art competition changed to an art festival which still remains today.  This was because of some issues with this competition.  The IOC demanded that only amateurs compete in the art competition.  Because of this, it was quite often that the works of “art” were not up to par with what a medal earning artistic piece should be.  As such, it was common that no medals were given in certain “events” each Olympic games.  Professional athletes were also slowly being allowed to compete in the games but the IOC remained persistent that no professional artist could compete.  For these reasons, paired with a general lack of interest by spectators, the IOC removed the art portion of the Olympic games.  The 1948 games was an end to Coubertin’s vision of artistic Olympic medalists.

Below are images of a couple of the gold medal works of art

Gold Medal for Painting: Alfred Reginald Thomson


Gold Medal for Architectural Design: Adolf Hoch







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