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Art Competitions at the 1948 London Summer Games

1948 Summer Games: Previous Summer Games


Host City: London, Great Britain
Date Started: July 29, 1948
Date Finished: August 14, 1948
Events: 18

Participants: 324 (271 men and 53 women) from 27 countries
Youngest Participant: CAN Clermont Pépin (22 years, 76 days)
Oldest Participant: GBR Denholm Armour (84 years, 181 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): SUI Alex Walter Diggelmann (2 medals)
Most Medals (Country): 4 countries with 4 medals


The art works sent in for the 1948 Olympics were exhibited in seven galleries at the Victoria & Albert Museum in South Kensington. Unlike previous Olympic art exhibitions, public interest was fairly low. This was partially attributed to a relatively high entrance fee of 2 shillings.

The programme saw a few changes compared to 1936. The architecture and literature events remained unchanged. The event for vocals was a new musical one, replacing the event for solo and choirs with one intended for one or more solo voices. The separate painting event for drawings and water colors disappeared, while the sculpturing event for medals was expanded to medals and plaques.

At 315, the number of entrants was much lower than in 1936, when there were more than 500. Notably absent were, of course, Japan and Germany, which were banned from the Games, but also the United States had decided not to send a team, owing to the decreased interest in 1936 (although that might have been partially due to the fact the 1936 Games were held in Nazi Germany). Finland was the most successful nation in London, earning 4 medals (including 2 golds), with just 7 artists from the nation having sent in works. Among them was [Aale Tynni], the first (and only) woman to win an Olympic art title.

The art competitions in London 1948 would be the last ever held at the Olympics. At the IOC Session, earlier discussions regarding the lack of an international federation, and the fact that most artists were professional, led to the decision to abolish them. But discussion went on, and two years later, the IOC reinstated them at the 1951 Vienna meeting. But the Helsinki Organizing Committee reported that there was insufficient time to organize the competitions on such short notice. In 1954, at the Athina IOC Session, the IOC once again voted to remove the competitions, this time replacing them with an Olympic art exhibition. This move has been definitive, and art competitions have not returned to the Olympic programme since 1948.