May 22, 2024  Abby Andrulitis

Sports in Art: Paris Exhibitions To See Besides the Olympics

Created: Wed, 05/22/2024 - 20:58
Author: abby
Edgar Degas, 1882-1884

Edgar Degas, Before the Race, 1882-1884 

The 2024 Paris Summer Olympics run from July 26th through August 11th and feature over 10,000 athletes across 32 sports and 47 disciplines. Although tickets can be purchased from the official site for as low as $26, they sell out fast and can also reach peak prices upwards of $3,000. 

For those aesthetes interested in the history of sports, but not ones to enjoy a crowded stadium, here are some Olympics-inspired art exhibitions to visit this summer, instead of the Stade de France.

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Rembrandt van Rijn, 1646.
Rembrandt van Rijn, Study Of A Man Sitting On The Ground, 1646.
1. The Body In Motion

The Petit Palais is hosting The Body in Motion through November 17th. This exhibition is built up from Petit Palais collections and emphasizes the connection between art and sport. Fifty different works are on display, all of which feature the body, anatomy, and/or sports.

The Body in Motion’s color palette highlights that of the Olympics, and the exhibit itself is divided into different categories: Origins of the Olympic Games; Heroic Body; The Drawn Body; Suspended Bodies; Sculpting the Body; The Body at Play; and Sport in Vogue.

A collection of videos, titled “In the Words of Athletes,” also accompanies the exhibition. The athletes within these videos are choreographed in a way that demonstrates how movement in sport is its own form of art. 

The best part– entry is free.

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Edgar Degas, 1882-1884
Edgar Degas, Before the Race, 1882-1884
2. At Stake! Artists and Sport (1870-1930)

At Stake! Artists and Sport (1870-1930) takes viewers through the visual history of different sports, from rowing to wrestling, from 1870 to 1930. The exhibition includes over a hundred pieces of art from European, American, and Japanese collections and explores how artists— like Monet and Degas— perceived sport aesthetics and athleticism. 

At Stake! Artists and Sport (1870-1930) will be on display at the Musée Marmottan Monet until September 1st. 

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Bréal's Cup, 1896
3. OLYMPISM: Modern Invention, Ancient Legacy

Running through September 16th, The Louvre presents OLYMPISM: Modern Invention, Ancient Legacy. The origins of the Olympic Games are showcased in this exhibition through a variety of artworks and artifacts, detailing the event’s political history and the iconic Greek games that inspired it.

Having been given a loan from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), The Louvre will also display the very first Olympic Cup— also known as “Breal’s Cup” after being designed by French linguist Michel Bréal. 

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Wikimedia Commons, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. 1911
Fred Luderus, Philadelphia, NL (baseball)
4. MATCH: Design & Sport - A Story Looking To The Future

A part of the Cultural Olympiad, MATCH: Design & Sport - A Story Looking To The Future illustrates the importance of fashion, design, and aesthetics in relation to sports. The shape, material, and even color of an athlete’s uniform can have a significant impact on the way they perform. 

The exhibition, held at the Luxembourg Museum through August 11th, examines the influence fashion has had on the sports world and the trajectory of this unexpected, symbiotic relationship.  

Original prototypes and recreations of athletic wear and uniforms will be on display.

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Wikimedia Commons, State Library of Queensland, Australia 1938
Diving at the Valley Baths, Brisbane, Queensland, 1938
5. Fashion on the Move #2

Presented at the Palais Galliera until January 5th, 2025, Fashion on the Move #2 is another design-centered retrospective, with a focus on the body in movement. Here, viewers can examine the history and gradual advancement of specialized garments worn for sports, like horseback riding or cycling.

The exhibit even has a specific section dedicated solely to swimwear. This distinction from the other sections is symbolic of the recognition of swimming as a sport at the end of the 19th century. It also illustrates the shift in social perception related to the exposure of bodies in sports. 

6. Carte blanche for Ari Marcopoulos


An exhibition unlike any of the others listed, Carte blanche for Ari Marcopoulos focuses on only one Olympic sport— skateboarding. Ari Marcopoulos is a photographer and filmmaker born in Amsterdam, but best-known for his work highlighting the downtown New York skate scene.

On display at The Musée d'Art Moderne de Paris until August 25th, this installation is centered around Marcopoulos’ super-8 filmBrown Bag, composed of various shots of skateboarders in New York. 

Marcopoulos was asked to browse the museum’s collection and choose pieces he felt resonated most with his film. As a result, he found artworks relating to the body, injuries, and architecture to create one cohesive exhibition. 

About the Author

Abby Andrulitis

Abby Andrulitis is a New England-based writer and the Assistant Editor for Art & Object. She holds her MFA in Screenwriting from Boston University. 

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