Paris 1924: Sport, Art and the Body
This catalogue sheds new light on the Paris Olympics of 1924, often considered the first international games. From their origins in ancient Greece to their modern transformation into a visually powerful event on the world stage, the Olympics have retained their unique place in sport and culture. Published to coincide with the Paris Olympics of 2024, the book accompanies a major exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum.
The summer of 2024 will see the Olympics return to Paris after a century. The Olympics in 1924 were arguably the first truly international games, the first games to transmit live radio broadcasts and the first to have an Olympic village. They incorporated an art competition as well as sporting events, and yielded thirty-five medals for Britain, including for Cambridge sprinter Harold Abrahams of Chariots of Fire fame.
This catalogue explores the Olympic games from a visual perspective, investigating the tensions between their classical beginnings and their representation in 1924 and across the modern era. How were the 1924 Olympics shaped by the visual culture of the period? And how, in turn, were the arts shaped by them? From plaster casts of fifth-century BCE athletic statues to Hollywood cinema, and from classic portraits of the protagonists to more abstract art, this catalogue brings together painting, sculpture, film, photography, posters, letters, medals and other memorabilia to tell a story of sporting endeavour that equally mirrored and shaped its times. Issues of gender, race and class, as well as an exploration of celebrity and spectatorship, show that the debate around sport was as complex and momentous in the past as it is today.
The exhibition catalogue offers readers the opportunity to explore some of the key themes of the show in more depth. It comprises essays by specialists from the fields of Classics, art history, French history, sports history and medicine, each of whom will focus on key themes in the exhibition and key protagonists in the Olympic story. The wide range of art will appeal to fans of classicism, modernism, Cubism, Surrealism and Futurism, as well as Art Deco, while the subject matter will also chime with sports fans – and tap into the enthusiasm for all things Olympic in 2024.
Edited by Caroline Vout and Christopher Young
Paperback, 240 x 170 mm
176 pp., 100 illustrations
The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
19 July 2024 – 3 November 2024
About the Authors
Caroline Vout is Professor of Classics and Director of the Museum of Classical Archaeology at the University of Cambridge.
Christopher Young is Head of the School of Arts and Humanities and Professor of Modern and Medieval German Studies at the University of Cambridge.