American Martin Linson’s bronze sculpture paying tribute to the Paralympic athlete won first place at the 2012 London Olympic Sport and Art Contest.
The St. Charles, Mo., sculptor became the second American artist in the past three Olympiads to win the International Olympic Committee (IOC) art competition. The 2012 contest was held Monday, June 11 at the IOC’s Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland.
His sculpture, “Omnipotent Triumph,” was selected in the sculpture category from entries from 62 nations by an IOC jury with judges from five continents. Linson’s piece “Omnipotent Triumph” features a Paralympic athlete crossing the finish line in his wheelchair with his arms uplifted in a triumphant “V” for victory pose.
The 36-year-old emerging artist says that Paralympians have always been amazing to him and he wanted to show them at a point of perfection—finishing and winning the race.
“I’m shocked. I never thought I would win whatsoever,” said the modest Linson, who has begun making three more bronzes of other Paralympians. “I knew it was something special. However, I just wanted to recognize these athletes because I felt their amazing accomplishments should come more to light.”
Coincidentally, the Paralympic Games first began the last time London hosted the OlympicGames. Following World War II, English Dr. Ludwig Guttmann organized the 1948 International Wheelchair Games to coincide with the 1948 Olympic Games in London. The 2008 Paralympic Games in Bejing involved 3,951 athletes representing 146 countries.
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.
Linson entered the U.S. Olympic Sport and Art Contest for the second time. He finished as a runner-up in the 2008 competition. Linson has a unique style in the representation of the human anatomy that has brought him major commissions such as the President of Lindenwood University. Linson is an adjunct art professor at Lindenwood and The St. Louis Art Institute, and he is the owner of Linson Studios and Lighthouse Screen Printing. Linson, who has studied under well-known, St. Louis-area sculptors Harry Weber and Don Wiegand, has other works displayed in numerous private collections.
Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich, a member of the IOC’s Culture and Olympic Education Commission, served on the judging committee for the art entered into the 2012 London Olympic Sport and Art Contest. Rosandich praised Linson’s work, noting that American Sergey Eylanbekov’s sculpture, “Five Continents,” won the IOC Sport Art Competition for the 2004 Athens Olympics.
“We are very pleased with the outcome and the sculpture Linson did honoring Paralympians,” Dr. Rosandich said from Lausanne, Switzerland. “This is a tremendous way for the United States to start the Olympics with another American artist winning our country’s first gold.”
The IOC’s Olympic Museum, which oversaw the international phase of the art contest, awarded $30,000 and a diploma for the first prize; $20,000 and a diploma for the second prize; $10,000 and a diploma for the third prize; and five further diplomas for runners up. In addition, Linson’s work will be highlighted at the 2012 Olympic Games in London and then will go on permanent display at the IOC’s museum along with the other winners.
Jack Scharr, who chaired the selection committee for the U.S. Olympic Sport and Art Contest, said he thought Linson’s sculpture of the Paralympian in a wheelchair strongly captured the theme of the IOC art contest, “Sport and the Olympic Values of Excellence, Friendship and Respect.”
“With most Olympic countries competing in the event, what a wonderful thing for Linson to win first place,” said Scharr, president of Fine Art Ltd. “When it won the U.S. Olympic competition, we felt it had a great chance for a medal in Lausanne. The news that it took first place has everyone here overjoyed.”