Olympic Games 1912 Stockholm

5th Olympiad


Sports: 17

Events: 107

National Teams: 28

Participants: 2,409

Olympic Art Competition


It was, of course, quite natural, that, when the Olympic Games were revived in our days, a wish should be strongly expressed to also include the thought entertained by the ancients, and unite intellectual feats to the physical displays at Olympic Competitions.

In connection with this idea, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, President of the International Olympic Committee has been a very ardent champion for the establishment of art competitions in connection with the modem Olympic Games and, on his initiative, it was determined by the International Olympic Committee as early as 1906 that, from the year 1908, the Olympiads recurring regularly each fourth year, should also include a “Concours d’Art”. The short time at the disposal of the organizers of the Olympic Games of London, 1908, did not permit of the execution of this design, so that nothing came of the matter at the Fourth Olympiad. The question was discussed again, however, after the London Games, and, at the Meetings of the International Olympic Committee at Berlin, 1909, and at Luxemburg, 1910, the decided opinion was expressed that, in connection with the Olympic Games of 1912, an announcement should be made of an art competition in architecture, sculpture, painting, music, and literature, to embrace works directly inspired by athletic sports.

In consequence of this definite demand for an art competition in connection with the Fifth Olympiad, the Swedish Olympic Committee applied to the Swedish Art Institutions and Associations, asking their opinion in the matter. These artistic circles advised great caution, however, in respect to the organizing of such a competition. The Royal Academy gave it as its decided opinion that, if an artcompetition was arranged, with the limitations fixed by the International Olympic Committee, it could hardly embrace anything but architecture, while, on the other hand, works of sculpture and painting would, in such a competition, be considered principally in the light of illustrations, calculated to glorify athletic life, and therefore presupposing in the artist, in the first place, a knowledge of the technics of athletics. The works in question, consequently, would not be judged merely as works of art, and, the competition, from an artistic point of view, would, therefore, be without meaning. 

The Royal Academy also pointed out the difficulty of obtaining any suitable exhibition premises in Stockholm, and also the absence of means of erecting such a place in the vicinity of the scene of the Olympic Games. The Academy, therefore, advised the Swedish Olympic Committee not to organize such a competition as the one in question. The Swedish Society of Arts pointed out that, while no serious remarks could be made against the plan as far as architecture was concerned, the case was quite different in respect to the regulations for painting and sculpture. Unlike the other arts, architecture always serves a more or less practical end. With regard to a competition in painting or sculpture, on the other hand, it must always be an indispensable condition that the principal motive of the competition is, purely and simply — art. This seemed not to be so in the present case, and as the successful works of art in question were not to be awarded the Olympic prizes, merely, or even principally, on account of their artistic merits, the competitions at once became purposeless. The Society, however, advised the holding of an Art Exhibition in connection with the Olympic Games.

The Section for Architecture of the Swedish Technological Society replied, that, even if it fully perceived the attractiveness of the proposal to fashion the modem Olympic Games, with the aid of art, in accordance with their classic prototypes, it was not able to advise the holding of the proposed competition, chiefly on account of the vast machinery and great expense necessary for its organization, and of the comparatively small results that could be expected. The Section wished to suggest, however, that, of the alternatives — a competition or an exhibition — an international competition in architecture should be chosen, in accordance with a definite programme. The Artists’ Association decided both against a competition and an exhibition, while the Artists’ Union expressed itself sympathetically as far as an exhibition was concerned. “The Free Artists” Society pointed out in its reply that, although the proposal to awaken artistic interest in healthful athletic sport appeared a most attractive one, still, it was impossible to realize the idea in the form of an art competition. On the other hand, the Society thought that an Art Exhibition in connection with the Olympic Games of 1912, would be a very suitable measure to adopt. In consequence of these expressions of opinion, the Swedish Olympic Committee, at a meeting held on the 6 February, 1912, resolved not to include the Concours d’Art in the programme of the Games, as the concensus of opinion in artistic circles in Sweden was against such a competition being held, and as, without the assistance of the leading artists of the country, the organization of such a competition would be associated with insuperable difficulties. A sum not exceeding 5,000 francs was granted, however, to be placed at the disposal of the International Olympic Committee, in the event of that body, in accordance with an alternative proposal made by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, determining to organize such a competition itself.

As a matter of fact, the International Olympic Committee afterwards determined to arrange such a competition as the one in question, and the following notice, with the propositions for the competition, was issued through the Swedish Olympic Committee:

1. The Fifth Olympiad will include: competitions in Architecture, Sculpture, 
    Painting, Music, and Literature.

2. The Jury can only consider subjects not previously published, exhibited or
    performed, and having some direct connection with sport.

3. The winner of each of the five competitions will be awarded the Gold
    Olympic Medal. The exhibits selected will, as far as possible, be published,
    exhibited or performed during the Olympic Games of 1912.

4. Competitors must notify their intention of entering for one or more of these
    competitions before the 15 January, 1912, and the exhibits themselves must
    be in the hands of the Jury before the 1 March, 1912.

5. No limitations as to size or form are laid down for manuscripts, plans, drawings
    or canvases, but sculptors are required to send in clay models, not exceeding
    80 centimetres in height, length or width.

6. For further information, application should be made to M. le Président du
    Comité International Olympique, 20, Rue Oudinot, Paris.

Text from: Official Report 1912 Stockholm,  page 806

                      The prizes were awarded as follows:

Designs for Town Planning:

1912 1st Eugène-Edouard Monod  + SUI Building plan of a modern stadium
Alphonse Laverriére 
2nd no prize was awarded
3rd no prize was awarded


1912 1st Walter Winans USA An American Trotter 
2nd Georges Dubois FRA Model of the entrance to a modern stadium
3rd no prize was awarded


1912 1st Giovanni Pellegrini  ITA Winter Sports
2nd no prize was awarded
3rd no prize was awarded

Literature - All Kinds:

1912 1st Pierre Frédi Baron de Coubertin FRA Ode to Sport
2nd no prize was awarded
3rd no prize was awarded


Pierre de Coubertin / Georges Hohrod and M. Eschbach  /  Ode to Sport, 1912
read the full text of Ode au Sport, only in german and french language:

Music - All Kinds:

1912 1st Riccardo Barthelemy  ITA Olympic Triumphal March
2nd no prize was awarded
3rd no prize was awarded

Other Olympic art competition: