Art Competitions at the 1948 Summer Olympics

Dates 29 July – 14 August 1948
Medal Events 17

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.

Events

Event Status Date Participants NOCs
Architecture, Designs For Town Planning, Open Olympic 29 July – 14 August 1948 6 3
Architecture, Architectural Designs, Open Olympic 29 July – 14 August 1948 12 7
Architecture, Further Entries, Open Olympic 29 July – 14 August 1948 38 12
Literature, Dramatic Works, Open Olympic 29 July – 14 August 1948 3 2
Literature, Epic Works, Open Olympic 29 July – 14 August 1948 13 8
Literature, Lyric Works, Open Olympic 29 July – 14 August 1948 16 9
Music, Compositions for Orchestra, Open Olympic 29 July – 14 August 1948 14 7
Music, Instrumental And Chamber, Open Olympic 29 July – 14 August 1948 6 3
Music, Vocals, Open Olympic 29 July – 14 August 1948 8 5
Music, Unknown Event, Open Olympic 29 July – 14 August 1948 2 1
Painting, Graphic Arts, Open Olympic 29 July – 14 August 1948 39 11
Painting, Paintings, Open Olympic 29 July – 14 August 1948 92 16
Painting, Applied Arts, Open Olympic 29 July – 14 August 1948 42 8
Sculpturing, Medals And Plaques, Open Olympic 29 July – 14 August 1948 11 5
Sculpturing, Reliefs, Open Olympic 29 July – 14 August 1948 7 6
Sculpturing, Statues, Open Olympic 29 July – 14 August 1948 47 15
Sculpturing, Unknown Event, Open Olympic 29 July – 14 August 1948 15 6
344 (291/53) 27 (26/15)

Medals

Event Gold Silver Bronze
Architecture, Designs For Town Planning, Open Yrjö LindegrenFIN SwitzerlandSUI Ilmari NiemeläinenFIN
Architecture, Architectural Designs, Open Adolf HochAUT Alfred RineschAUT Nils OlssonSWE
Literature, Epic Works, Open Giani StùparichITA Josef PetersenDEN Éva FöldesHUN
Literature, Lyric Works, Open Aale TynniFIN Ernst Van HeerdenRSA Gilbert ProuteauFRA
Music, Compositions For Orchestra, Open Zbigniew TurskiPOL Kalervo TuukkanenFIN Erling BreneDEN
Music, Instrumental And Chamber, Open John WeinzweigCAN Sergio LauricellaITA
Music, Vocals, Open Gabriele BianchiITA
Painting, Graphic Arts, Open Albert DecarisFRA John CopleyGBR Walter BattissRSA
Painting, Paintings, Open Alfred ThomsonGBR Giovanni StradoneITA Letitia HamiltonIRL
Painting, Applied Arts, Open Alex Walter DiggelmannSUI Alex Walter DiggelmannSUI
Sculpturing, Medals And Plaques, Open Oskar ThiedeAUT Edwin GrienauerAUT
Sculpturing, Reliefs, Open Rosamund FletcherGBR
Sculpturing, Statues, Open Gustaf NordahlSWE Chintamoni KarGBR Hubert YencesseFRA

Medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
Finland FIN 2 1 1 4
Austria AUT 1 2 1 4
Great Britain GBR 1 2 1 4
Italy ITA 1 1 2 4
France FRA 1 0 2 3
Sweden SWE 1 0 1 2
Poland POL 1 0 0 1
Switzerland SUI 0 2 1 3
Denmark DEN 0 1 1 2
South Africa RSA 0 1 1 2
Canada CAN 0 1 0 1
Hungary HUN 0 0 1 1
Ireland IRL 0 0 1 1