This week the world is talking about sports, thanks to the 2012 Olympic games in London.
But 100 years ago the Olympics included not just sports, but art. Medals were awarded for sport-themed painting, sculpture, literature, architecture and music in games held between 1912 and 1952.
NPR's Audie Cornish spoke with historian John MacAloon, who explained the idea was conceived by the founder of the Olympics, Pierre de Coubertin:
MACALOON: [He] was inspired by the ancient Greek Olympic Games, which most expressions included competitions in musical performance, in singing and in heralding, public announcement, if you will, he wanted to make sure the modern games follow that.
Secondly, he felt very, very strongly that if you didn't have competitions in the arts, then all you had, as he put it, was a mere series of sporting world championships. So it was his idea. He fought for it, and it took till the Stockholm Games of 1912 for the first competitions to actually be organized.
CORNISH: Essentially, anybody could submit works of art to the competition to be judged by, I guess, by commissions in the host country. How seriously did the art community take the competition?
MACALOON: Well, this was the problem right from the beginning. The debates began almost immediately. True art is art for art's sake. How could this art for sport's sake really be authentic? Would you get any quality submissions? Why would artists create original works against such a new and uncertain format? Artists themselves are not always really happy to compete directly with one another. And when they do, they would prefer a jury of their peers. So the artists were afraid that they would be judged by people from sport, and the sports people were afraid that they'd get submissions from artists that really were not deeply connected with the theme.
As a result, winning submissions - especially in the literature category - were, well... not that winning.
Friday night approximately 1 billion people tuned in or attended the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics. In the U.S., viewers were able to catch the four hour event on NBC.
All except for one rather important moment.
Photo: Associated Press
NBC chose to cut away from the opening ceremonies for a pre-taped interview with Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps just as choreographer Akram Khan was performing his tribute to the 52 victims of the July 2005 London bomb attacks. The attacks happened the day after London was awarded the Olympics.
"I feel disheartened and disappointed," Khan said in a subsequent press conference.
"I was really shocked and horrified and would like to know on what grounds the American media can make that decision."
"I am really sad that I couldn't show the work in America, and that really upsets me, because I don't think it's any less or more than any of the other pieces," Khan went on to say.
"Is it not accessible enough? Is it not commercial enough? It brings to mind a question that maybe it's too truthful, and I think that says it all really."
NBC issued a statement over the weekend in which it said that stated editing decisions such as this are routinely made for pre-recorded entertainment.(1 Comments)
The Hennepin County Library has announced the upcoming season of Talk of the Stacks, its free author series. Here are the details:
Author Michael Chabon will be the featured guest of Talk of the Stacks on September 21
September 21: Michael Chabon, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, will present his new novel, Telegraph Avenue.
October 4: Best-selling author and respected social critic Naomi Wolf shares Vagina: A New Biography. This latest work uses science and cultural history to reframe how we understand the vagina and the female consciousness.
November 17: British writer Geoff Dyer, known for his wildly inventive novels and uncategorizable works of nonfiction, will discuss Otherwise Known as the Human Condition, which won the National Book Critic's Circle Award for Criticism.
December 6: Journalist, humorist, food writer, poet, and novelist Calvin Trillin will present his new book Dogfight: An Occasionally Interrupted Narrative Poem About the Presidential Campaign and the paperback edition of Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin: Forty Years of His Funny Stuff.
All talks are held at the Hennepin County Library - Minneapolis Central in Pohlad Hall, and are free and open to the public.
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The St. Paul-based Bush Foundation has named a new president.
The new head of the foundation will be Jennifer Ford Reedy, known for her work on the Itasca Project and the GiveMN.org initiative at the Minnesota Philanthropy Partners. Reedy is currently the chief of staff and vice president of strategy at Philanthropy Partners.
At the Bush Foundation, Reedy will succeed Peter Hutchinson, who headed the organization from 2008 through January 2012. Former University of Minnesota president Robert Bruininks has served as an interim leader.
Reedy is also a former McKinsey & Co. consultant and serves on the board of the Citizens League and the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library.
The Bush foundation was founded in 1953 by 3M Co. executive Archibald Bush and his wife, Edyth. It's the fourth largest philanthropic foundation in Minnesota.
Reedy said she expects the foundation will make technological advances during her tenure.
"I think the Bush Foundation has already done some interesting work using online platforms and using social media, so it isn't like I'm bringing a skill that isn't already in the organization in some capacity," she said. "But I definitely do have a lot of optimism about the power of social media and other technology tools in bringing people together, so I'll definitely bring that to this role."
Reedy is a Kansas native. She starts as the foundation's fourth president on Sept. 4.
Editor's note: Thanks to MPR's Tim Nelson for this story