The body, effort, and physical prowess of the athlete; the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat; the sites of competition: these have always provided subjects for artists, and thus for historians and art historians — and continue to do so today.

In a year marked by the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris, the Festival — part of the Cultural Olympiad program — will endeavor to consider sport as an overall cultural phenomenon. From early forms to more modern conceptions of sport, born in British universities before evolving into the social and media spectacles that we know today, many aspects of athletics will be reflected upon over these three days. But the Festival is not a competition – there are no winners or losers, rankings, or gold medals!

The Festival’s primary objective with this central theme is to transmit our current understanding about the relationship between art and sports, and to pass the baton of this research to future generations of art historians. “Sport inspires belief and is perfectly suited to the demands of image,” wrote historian George Vigarello. Sport also requires effort, and the bodies and muscles of visitors will be honed through matches of court tennis, demonstrations of fencing, workshops for boxing, and also the equestrian events in the courtyards of the Château de Fontainebleau.