The founder of the modern Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, was an athlete, artist and educator (2,3). From the 1912 Stockholm Olympics through to the 1948 London Olympics [1912, 1920, 1924, 1928, 1932, 1936 and 1948] there were cultural competitions in architecture, painting, sculpture, literature, and music (4,5,6,7,8). In 1912, under the pseudonyms Georges Hohrod and M. Eschbach, Pierre de Coubertin competed in the poetry competition with his poem Ode au Sport for which he was awarded the gold medal (9,10).
The founder of Art of the Olympians, Al Oerter was also an athlete, artist and educator. The mission of the AOTO program is to show the connection between sport and the arts and teach Olympic values through educational programs, exhibitions and cultural events. AOTO looks to Olympic and Paralympic sports, sporting events, athletes and specific athletic accomplishments for subject matter for artistic expression and educational investigation.
Al Oerter’s Olympic accomplishments as an athlete winning four consecutive gold medals in the discus from 1956 to 1968 are well documented. But his artistic journey that began 12 years after winning his last Olympic gold medal is not as well known.In 1980 Oerter became the first Olympic Gold Medalist to be asked by Anheuser Busch, a major supporter of the 1984 Olympics Games, to create an original work of art for a unique fundraising effort. The artwork was then reproduced and sold in limited editions prints and posters with profits going to the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). Before he started creating his first painting Al said “I have absolutely no idea what I am going to do. I am not an artist” (11,58). Little did he know, or anyone else at the time, but the experience was to forever change his life. In the last five years of his life, from 2001 to 2006, he was incredibly prolific creating over 300 paintings. He used a variety of styles but was best known for his works in which he threw a discus onto a canvas of freshly poured multicolored wet paint.