When sport meets art: history, Olympic Games and exhibitions

To think that athletes are not interested in art and that art and museum lovers understand nothing about sport would be a cliché. However, it is undeniable that the fusion between the world of sport and that of art is rather rare, with the notable exception of the sculptural representations of the Olympic Games of Ancient Greece.

In this article, we will explore the links between the world of sport and that of art. From Antiquity to the present day, we will discover how these two worlds have intertwined throughout history, from the sculptures of ancient Greece to contemporary exhibitions dedicated to sport.

Sport in ancient art

In the vision of Ancient Greece, physical superiority and moral perfection are two inseparable foundations. This is why representations of athletes in action were frequent in the art of this period, whether through sculpture, vases, mosaics or wall frescoes.

These works highlighted physical and moral perfection, emphasizing the importance of harmony between body and spirit. Thus, long before the term "sport" was used, art was already working to illustrate these ideals.

Among the most emblematic sculptures of Antiquity is that attributed to Myron, an Athenian sculptor from the 5th century BC. Known under the name "Discobolus", this work represents an athlete throwing a discus. Through its geometric and theoretical aesthetic, it embodies muscular perfection and symbolizes the physical ideal of the time.

When art competed in the Olympic Games

Did you know that painting, sculpture and architecture were among the medal-winning disciplines at the Olympic Games? An artistic-sporting epic that lasted 36 years!

Olympic events in painting, sculpture, literature, music and architecture? The idea seems crazy. And yet, between 1912 and 1948, 150 medals were awarded in these fields! Baron Pierre de Coubertin (1863–1937), famous reinventor of the Olympic Games, saw nothing unusual in it: associating art and sport was in his eyes an essential way of maintaining a link with the spirit of the Games as they were. took place in ancient Greece, where they were born in the 8th century BCE and lasted for more than 1000 years...

7 exhibitions to discover for sports fans

1. Sport & design, a story turned towards the future

The symbiotic relationship between design and sport is explored in an exhibition at the Musée du Luxembourg (6th). Until August 11, this exhibition highlights the technical advances and creative innovations that have enabled athletes to improve their sporting performances and push the limits of the imaginable for the sport of tomorrow.

MATCH Design & Sport - a story turned towards the future at the Musée du Luxembourg

📍 Luxembourg Museum - 19, rue de Vaugirard, Paris 6th

📅 From Wednesday March 13, 2024 to Sunday August 11, 2024

2. Once upon a time there were stadiums

Imagine sport without a stadium... This question drives this major exhibition, organized around three major themes: democratization, performance and the globalization of this emblematic space dedicated to sports competitions. Born in Antiquity, where it served as a gathering place and even a unit of measurement, the stadium underwent major transformations in the 20th century, whether architectural, historical or societal.

“Once upon a time there were stadiums” at the City of Architecture and Heritage

📍 City of architecture and heritage - 1, place du Trocadéro et du 11 Novembre, Paris

📅 From Wednesday March 20, 2024 to Monday September 16, 2024

3. The Olympic Games, a mirror of societies?

As Paris prepares to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Shoah Memorial (93) offers an insight into a century of Olympicism. Through archival documents, press clippings and films, the exhibition explores the way in which this event reflects developments in society. The route allows you to approach dark periods in history, notably the year 1936 marked by the political exploitation of the Games by Nazi Germany. However, the exhibition also highlights the humanist values ​​of the Olympics, which work to combat racism and anti-Semitism.

Paris 1924-2024: the Olympic Games, a mirror of societies?

📍 Drancy Shoah Memorial - 110-112 BC Jean Jaurès, Drancy

📅 From Sunday February 4, 2024 to Wednesday July 31, 2024

4. The 1922 Women's World Games

We happily go back in time, to August 1922 to be precise. It was there at Pershing Stadium that Alice Milliat opened the first ever Women's Olympic Games, now known as the Women's World Games. A century later, Paris celebrates this sporting and feminist event through a dedicated exhibition.

Exhibition: "The 1922 Women's World Games"

📍 Center Paris Anim' La Jonquière - 88 Rue de La Jonquière, Paris 17th

📅 From Monday February 26, 2024 to Saturday March 16, 2024

5. Paris, an Olympic centenary

To celebrate the centenary of the 1924 Paris Olympiad, the exhibition "Paris, an Olympic centenary" offers a look back before the 2024 Paris Games, thus highlighting the major imprint left by the capital a century ago in the history of the modern Games.

“Paris, an Olympic centenary” exhibition: 100 years of history of the Games

📍 House of Student Initiatives - 76 bis Rue de Rennes, Paris 6th

📅 From Friday October 6, 2023 to Sunday September 29, 2024

6. Fashion and sport, from one podium to another

Fashion and sports, although seemingly distant at first glance, have nevertheless converged to the point where pioneers of haute couture have integrated sports aesthetics into their designs. The Museum of Decorative Arts offers a fascinating exploration of sportswear and its evolution through the ages. This exhibition, comprising more than 450 pieces, accessories, photographs and posters, highlights the influence of sport on contemporary fashion.

Fashion and sport, from one podium to another

📍 Museum of Decorative Arts - 107 rue de Rivoli, Paris 1e

📅 From Wednesday September 20, 2023 to Sunday April 7, 2024

7. SPOT24, the new urban sports of the Games

SPOT24, the new exhibition space, celebrates the six new Olympic disciplines: skateboarding, climbing, BMX freestyle, 3x3 basketball, surfing and breaking. While waiting for the Paris 2024 Games, visitors can browse an immersive and interactive experience that presents them. This initiative is based on works selected from the collection of the Olympic Museum in Lausanne and on original creations by French and international artists.

SPOT24, the Olympic exhibition on urban sports for Paris 2024

📍 SPOT24 - 101, quai Jacques-Chirac, Paris 15th

📅 From Wednesday October 18, 2023 to Tuesday December 31, 2024