With the start of the Olympics, in Sochi, today I find it appropriate to mention a little known fact. In its early days, the modern Olympic Games, from 1912 to 1948, hosted art competitions. The competitions were part of theoriginal intention of the Olympic Movement’s founder, Pierre de Frédy, Baron de Coubertin.
The idea was to have a Penthathlon (a contest feature five events) that would award medals for works of art inspired by sport, divided into five categories: architecture, literature, music, painting, and sculpture.
At the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, Walter Winans (American) took the podium and waved proudly to the crowd, for he had won two Olympic medals—a gold for sharpshooting at the 1908 London Games, as well as a silver for the same event in 1912—but the gold he won at Stockholm wasn’t for shooting. It was instead awarded for a small piece of bronze he had cast earlier that year: a 20-inch-tall horse pulling a small chariot. For his work, An American Trotter, Winans won the first ever Olympic gold medal for sculpture.
After Winans, others followed, and the tradition of valuing art continued. Most Notably through:
- Jean Jacoby, from Luxembourg. He was the only artist to receive two gold medals in the Olympic art competitions. He won the gold for his painting “Etudes de Sport” at the 1924 Games and another gold four years later in Amsterdam for his drawing of rugby players. Jacoby earned honorable mentions in 1932 and 1936.
- Alfred Hajos, a Hungarian, who won a pair of gold medals in freestyle swimming at the 1896 Athens Games, and nearly 30 years later, Hajos won silver in the architecture competition at the 1924 Paris Games for his design of the Budapest Swimming Center.
- Baron Pierre de Coubertin: That is right, the founder of the International Olympic Committee and the man responsible for reviving the Olympic art competitions won a gold medal in literature at the 1912 Games for his “Ode to Sport,” which was submitted under a pseudonym.
However, sadly, the juried art competitions were abandoned in 1954 because artists were considered to be professionals, while Olympic athletes were required to be amateurs. Yet since the beginning in the 1970s, amateurism requirements were gradually phased out of the Olympic Charter. After the 1988 Games, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to make all professional athletes eligible for the Olympics. As of 2012, the only sports in which no professionals compete is boxing and wrestling, although even this requires a definition of amateurism based on fight rules rather than on payment, as some boxers and wrestlers receive cash prizes from their National Olympic Committees.
It seems to me that although there used to be a ‘legitimate’ reason for the IOC to do away with the “Pentathlon of the Muses”, there isn’t anymore. So I give you this to consider, why don’t we bring them back? I think we should bring them back, no, I think they need to be brought back.
We live in a time where culture is in desolation and needs to be reborn, and not only reborn but funded and encouraged. An environment should be made that naturally allows for the polymath to flourish and be idealized. Whether this be the Olympic or some other form of competition, I would not know. The only thing that I do know is that the Leonardo da Vincis, Michelangelos, Galileos, and Copernicuses of our time need to be recognized and honored. However, not only in art, but in science, and when I say science I mean science, not just the material sciences, but philosophy and theology.
The culture of death is that because there is one dictator and his name is Relativism. Truth, Goodness and Beauty need to one in perception as it is in reality. This is why I have put together a petition to begin a new Pentathlon of the Muses. And there is one thing I know, if enough voices come together we are no longer a drop in a vast ocean, but a vast ocean composed of multiple drops. So please sign the petition and I will write a letter to the IOC expressing our concern. Here is a link:
May God Bless, and please share.