At the beginning of the 1990’s, Renate Westhoff began to promote artists. She organized international art fairs and exhibition concepts for the artists she represented. In this context, she developed an concept for the 1994 Soccer World Cup in Chicago, which had a direct connection to the sporting event. She exhibited artists from those countries, who competed against each other in sports. This ‘Art Match Exhibition’ was shown in 1994 with great success at the Goethe Institut in Chicago. Visitors saw this cultural program as an attractive accompaniment to the sports event; it was reported on TV in 17 countries.
After this first experience of a major sporting event, and because this concept was lauded as grandiose, she was inspired to continue to emphasize this connection between art and sports.
Thus her idea grew to develop an identical exhibition for the Olympic Games. For many months, she researched whether there was anything similar to the Olympics. She searched in relevant sources as well as in the library of the University of Freiburg, where she lived. She studied the relationship between sports and art from the ancient Olympic Games to the modern games initiated by Pierre Baron de Coubertin in 1896, reviving them after a gap of one thousand and five hundred years.
Westhoff’s research led her to the realization that in the present modern Olympic Games, there was nothing comparable. There was no exhibition in which the culture of the participating countries were represented by their artists. So she developed the today’s ‘ARTIADE – the Olympics of Art,’based on the idea that athletes and artists, today as in Ancient Greece, are considered to be of equal merit, and represent two facets of a common culture. This art concept then became very popular in politics and cultural organizations.
More information can be found in the foreword of the ARTIADE brochure 2004 (Download).