Olympic series, bobsleigh

Hans Erni1983

The Olympic Museum

The Olympic Museum
Lausanne, Switzerland

One team of four men in red putting on their helmets, one of four in blue at the start and another of two in yellow going down the track. Two faces are watching them.

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  • Title: Olympic series, bobsleigh
  • Date Created: 1983
  • Location Created: Switzerland
  • Physical Dimensions: w500 x h650 cm (Complete)
  • Painter: Hans Erni
  • Description: Signed: Erni 2.7.83 on the right bottom.
  • Collection information: Hans Erni was commissioned in 1983 by the International Olympic Committee for thirty-one canvasses illustrating the Olympic sports. In these paintings, he frequently enjoyed surrounding his athletes with depictions of the ancient gods, giving them an air of something sacred. For some disciplines whose less elegant or more violent nature made them difficult to approach through painting, Erni managed to confer upon them, through the interplay of colours and line, a poetry that bears witness to his penetrating approach to the subject. In October 1986, all these works were hung at the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.
  • Artistic school or movement: After an apprenticeship as a surveyor and draftsman (1924-1927), Hans Erni attended the Lucerne school of arts and crafts in 1927 and 1928. He then spent two years in Paris at the Académie Julian, where he was awarded a first prize in art competition and spent one year at the “Staatliche Hochschule für Kunst” in Berlin. Returning to Paris in 1930, he met several contemporary artists, and was deeply impressed by Picasso and Braque and their work. During his travels to Belgium, Italy and London, he discovered the abstract movement and takes part in the creation of the “Abstraction-Création” association in 1937 and was to co-founder of the “Allianz” group in Zurich. Erni created a wide range of different works of art such as paintings, frescos, wall rugs, mosaics, posters, lithographs, ceramics, book illustrations, medals and stamps. His oeuvre showed use of a wide range of artistic techniques with a preference for the lithograph. After his abstract work with the avant-garde, he turned to a more figurative painting. Hans Erni’s art combined science, mythology and sport in a unique style recognisable due to his typical characters surrounded by white outlines. The sport representations are strongly influenced by Ancient Greek nude anatomy. The Olympic Games deeply touched the artist’s vision and for him: “Paavo Nurmi was the reincarnation of the mythic Milo of Crotone”. The “Hans Erni Foundation” and the “Hans Erni Museum” were established in Lucerne during the late 70’s. In 1992, the artist received the first Olympic Medal of Arts awarded by the IOC from the hands of Mr. Samaranch. Hans Erni produced several pieces for the Olympic Museum such as the “Olympic Series” in 1983. In 1999, The Olympic Museum organized the exhibition “Sport Passion entirely dedicated to his art.
  • Type: Paintings
  • Rights: International Olympic Committee, 2003, ©IOC
  • Medium: Tempera on paper