The theme of sporting contests has been inextricably linked with high art for over 2,500 years. It was with the aid of such contests that Ancient Greek art identified those most beautiful in body, seeking to create objective canons for worship. In the 19th century, after long years of oblivion, this method, the agonistika, was revived and sport was once again a recognized artistic theme. The revival of the Olympic movement brought European culture closer to Antique sources. By the end of the 19th century hundreds of artists throughout Europe were singing the praises of the beautiful bodies of sportsmen. During the first half of this century art and sport moved together in close alliance towards the future. In the 1930s sporting art underwent a “great renaissance”: in France, Great Britain, Italy, Germany, USA, USSR, Sweden, Finland and many other European countries marvelous works were created, praising sporting ideals. It was then that the world saw the appearance of such masterpieces as Abraam Room’s film “The Austere Young Man”, Leni Rifenstahl’s “Olympics”, and Alexander Samokhvalov’s panel “Soviet Sport”, for which he received the Grand Prix at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1937.
But the Second World War put a stop to this process and the Cold War which followed led to the opposing sides demanding not only a political but also an aesthetic image of the enemy. In the West the dissemination of Modernism began, and Classically oriented art was declared to be “totalitarian”, as a direct result of which by the 1980s, George Bush’s Secretary for Sport, Arnold Schwarzenegger, spoke of his regret that the achievements of American sportsmen could not be captured in the visual arts because of the lack of necessary masters. East European “totalitarianism”, however, permitted the preservation of those sculptors and painters with a mastery of European Classical traditions.
It was the 1990s which united Europe: the Olympic movement reached unheard of proportions; in Russia a powerful movement for the revival of Classic Art made its appearance; in Europe the movement for the renaissance of Classical aesthetics spread. Many artists turned to sport. One of the most notable of these is the painter Georgy Guryanov, Professor of the St.Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts. His works, closely linked with the “great sporting renaissance” of the 1930s, reveal that Arnold Schwarzenegger will soon be satisfied.
Novikov T.: ”Georgy Guryanov”// New Russian Classicism. The edition of the State Russian Museum. SPb. P. 239-242, 1998