FAMSF Blog

Weird Sports: Olympic Oddities from the Ancient World

The Olympic canoe sprint, an event that starts on August 6, looks pretty weird when you think about it: human beings wrapped in brightly colored fabrics, sitting in little plastic shells, racing on a simulated river. It would have looked even weirder to the ancient Greeks. The first Olympic event was actually pretty simple, the stadion: a foot race of exactly one stade, which was a length of about 180 meters. It was run naked, it was over in less than a minute, and nobody capsized. The ancient Olympics did include some pretty weird sports however, and Gifts From the Gods: Art and the Olympic Ideal, currently on view at the Legion of Honor, exhibits several ancient coins depicting some of the oddest ones. 

Jockey galloping right, holding torch (obverse), silver didrachm, ca. 280-272 BC, Tarentum, Calabria. Anonymous Loan

coin with man and torch
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Influences and Inspiration at the de Young Summer Art Camp

As guest blogger Kelsey Linton reports, this week at the de Young Summer Art camp, the goal was to encourage our campers to examine the sources of their creativity with the theme "Influences and Inspirations". Each day of class focused on a new artistic medium or a particular artist's work, which made this one of the busiest weeks yet! The Masters, the oldest group of the campers; the Artisans, the middle age group; and the Apprentices, the youngest group, all gathered inspiration from famous artists in the de Young’s collection throughout the week.

Inspiration
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Off the Walls: A Work in Progress

One of the most innovative components of the Artist Fellows program is the goal to reveal the process of artistic creation—the weeks (even years) of planning, the evolving ideas, and the constant back-and-forth that foments creativity. Throughout the month of July, Artist Fellow Sarah Wilson and her artistic partners, Catch Me Bird (C. Derrick Jones and Nehara Kalev), have been exhibiting this collaborative process as they work together to produce Off the Walls. A multimedia performance that melds Wilson’s dynamic jazz-oriented music with Catch Me Bird’s dance and aerial performances, Off the Walls is inspired by the painter Aaron Douglas, whose painting Aspiration is a highlight of the de Young’s American painting collection.

Artist Fellow Sarah Wilson with C. Derrick Jones and Nehara Kalev of Catch Me Bird

Sarah Wilson and Catch Me Bird
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The Artist’s Archive: Making a Portfolio Work at the de Young Summer Camp

“Making art is a building process. You have to set a foundation and then everything else grows steadily from that grounded place.”—Summer Camp Master Artist

Tracing
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The Art of the Photo Finish

As millions watch the Summer Olympics opening ceremony this Friday, July 27, the best athletes in the world will officially open the Games of the XXX Olympiad. The next day, Saturday, July 28, Gifts from the Gods: Art and the Olympic Ideal opens at the Legion of Honor. Like the opening ceremony, and the Games themselves, this exhibition celebrates athletic achievement. Whereas the opening ceremony will be a huge spectacle, the winners of the events will be determined on a much smaller scale—with sometimes just milliseconds separating gold and silver medalists.

Wreath.Greek, Hellenistic period, 4th–3rd century BC.Gold.Albert Campbell Hooper Memorial Purchase.1967.7

Golden wreath of laurels
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Marcel Duchamp’s World in a Box: Fixing a Famous Valise

Museum visitors currently have the opportunity to look inside a rare treasure normally kept locked in dark storage. Marcel Duchamp: The Book and the Box, currently on view in the Logan Gallery at the Legion of Honor, features Duchamp’s iconic artwork, Boîte en Valise, which was made in the late 1930s.

Boite en Valise
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