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Fourth-Place Medal

Terrible Olympic photos elevated to fine art

Fourth-Place Medal

Michael Phelps (Joe Klamar/AFP/GettyImages)

If you're not sure where to dump your bad sports photos, try New York City's Powerhouse Arena. That's where Joe Klamar will be exhibiting his notorious Olympic portraits, which sparked a debate when they were released earlier this month. Some praised Klamar's shots, calling them an edgy tribute to Olympians' humanity. But most just thought they were bad.

Professional photographers and throwaway-camera-users alike criticized his poor lighting, awkward poses, and poor planning. Klamar admitted that he wasn't prepared when he showed up for the shoot at the Dallas Hilton Hotel:

"I was under the impression that I was going to be photographing athletes on a stage or during press conference where I would take their headshots for our archives," he said to an AP colleague.

[ Related: Photographer blasted for Team USA portraits ]

Consider that Van Gough, Vermeer and Gauguin weren't called masters until long after their deaths. Perhaps, Klamar's photos just need time to age -- like one month of time.  The Powerhouse Arena is proudly exhibiting his paintings from July 27-Sept. 4, putting its own spin on the collection:

Many of the photographs were first met with harsh criticism from a bevy of news sites and photo blogs quick to highlight the images' alleged defects….Such criticisms miss the work's powerful and nuanced compositions and display of personality. Here we see real individuals at the peak of their athletic career in ordinary and impromptu poses, sometimes playful, some quite intense, in an unplanned setting. You will not see world-class athletes like this anywhere.

Not sure about all that, but the photos are bound to look better after a couple glasses of wine.

Photos: U.S. gymnastics team

Jonathan Horton (Joe Klamar/AFP/GettyImages)

Rebecca Bross (Joe Klamar/AFP/GettyImages)

Natalie Coughlin (Joe Klamar/AFP/GettyImages)

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