The Tokyo Olympic Games: sport through the prism of art
Whether you’re a die-hard Olympics fan or laughing at the epic sporting event, there’s no escaping the deluge of sports imagery that floods every TV screen, Twitter feed and news site. during and after these 16 superhuman days. competetion. This summer, the Tokyo Games, which begin on July 23 after being delayed for a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, are more anticipated than ever. To put you in mind, The Wall Street Journal’s Arts in Review team has compiled a list of works of art that celebrate sport and sportsmanship, from the rare moment of rest of the champion athlete to the sentiment of visceral and devouring admiration of the spectator.
“Boxer at rest” 350-50 BC
As much as the Olympics are about celebrating strength and endurance, one of the most common experiences among participants is pain, as “Boxer at Rest” reminds us. The bronze statue from Ancient Greece was an anomaly for its time, not because of its very realistic style, which mirrored that of other sculptures made during the Hellenistic period, but because of the moment it represented, it was that is, that of vulnerability and exhaustion. “The more you examine this face, the more striking its realism becomes,” writes critic James Gardner. “Of course he is deformed, but his deformations are those of pugilism rather than of art: the flattened nose which seems to have been broken more than once; half-closed eyes and flapped ears; the swollen and parted lips through which the boxer tries to breathe. Cast using the lost wax technique, the surface of the bronze has been encrusted in places with traces of copper alloy to describe the scar tissue and traces of blood. In an era and culture dominated by idealized renditions of triumphant and divine subjects, the Boxer offered a more down-to-earth representation of the athletic experience.