Winners of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Sport and Art Contest, which includes American sculptor Martin Linson who took first place in the sculpture category, are having their artwork displayed during the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Guildhall Art Gallery.
The art show opens Sunday, July 22 at the gallery and features the top eight pieces in both sculpture and graphic works. Following the Olympic Games the 16 pieces of artwork will go on permanent display at the IOC’s museum in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The 16 winning works are being presented in the excavated ruins of London’s Roman Amphitheatre in an underground display area designed by architect Nigel Coates. In addition, a special viewing of the city’s 1297 Magna Carta is part of the exhibit.
An Awards Ceremony for the artists who placed first, second and third is scheduled to take place during the IOC World Conference on Sport Education and Culture from Nov. 25-27 in Amsterdam. There they will be awarded their gold, silver and bronze medals and prize money.
The art show during the Olympic Games includes Linson’s bronze, “Omnipotent Triumph,” which honors Paralympic athletes. The graphic arts winner is Italian artist Volha Piashko’s painting, “In Search of Harmony.”
Linson became the second American artist in the past three Olympiads to win the IOC art competition. His sculpture, “Omnipotent Triumph,” was selected in the sculpture category from entries from 62 nations by an international jury with judges from five continents. Linson’s piece features a Paralympic athlete crossing the finish line in his wheelchair with his arms uplifted in a triumphant “V” for victory pose.
“It is truly an honor to have been selected for this award,” said Linson, a 36-year-old sculptor from St. Charles, Mo. “I am humbled by the attention that is being directed towards me when the goal of the sculpture is to bring attention to the athletes that it is trying to honor.”
The second and third place winners in the sculpture category are Levan Vardosanidze, who is from Georgia in Eurasia, for “Olympic Hymn,” and Spain’s Fernando Serrano Munoz for “The Cycling Woman,” respectively. In graphic works, the second and third place winners are Luisa Balaban, from Romania, for “Excellence Rising,” and Isabel de Cunha Lima, from Portugal, for “Hope.”
Linson qualified for the IOC art competition when he won the U.S. Olympic Sport and Art Contest in February. The U.S. contest was conducted by the United States Sport Academy in cooperation with the Art of the Olympians and under the auspices of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).
It was the fourth consecutive U.S. Olympic Sport and Art contest that the Academy has overseen. The sports university has a strong tradition of supporting the arts, establishing the American Sport Art Museum and Archives (ASAMA) in 1984, which arguably contains one of the largest collections of sport art in the world.
Coincidentally, Linson’s winning sculpture is being shown in London where the Paralympic Games first began when the city hosted the Olympic Games in 1948. Following World War II, English Dr. Ludwig Guttmann organized the 1948 International Wheelchair Games to coincide with the 1948 Olympic Games in London.
Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich, a member of the IOC’s Culture and Olympic Education Commission, served on the IOC’s judging committee for the art entered into its fourth competition. Rosandich praised Linson’s work, noting that American Sergey Eylanbekov’s sculpture, “Five Continents,” won the IOC sport art contest for the 2004 Athens Olympics.
“We are very pleased with the outcome and the sculpture Linson did honoring Paralympians,” Dr. Rosandich said. “This is a tremendous way for the United States to start the Olympics with another American artist winning our country’s first gold.”