Dezeen Magazine

dezeen_London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Posters_1

London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games posters

Here are twelve posters that have been created by leading British artists to celebrate next year's London Olympic and Paralympic Games.

London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Posters

The artworks were made by Tracey Emin, Martin Creed, Rachel Whiteread, Chris Ofili, Gary Hume, Anthea Hamilton, Howard Hodgkin, Bridget Riley, Fiona Banner, Michael Craig-Martin, Sarah Morris and Bob and Roberta Smith.

London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Posters

The artists were asked to create imagery that celebrates the Olympic Games coming to London and expresses the values of the Olympics and Paralympics.

London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Posters

Artists who have previously designed Olympic posters include David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol.

London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Posters

The posters will be exhibited next summer at Tate Britain as part of the London 2012 Festival, a 12-week celebration of British culture running concurrent to the Games.

London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Posters

Here is some more information from the London Olympic Games Organising Committee:

Official Olympic and Paralympic Posters for London 2012 by UK’s top artists unveiled today

A collection of specially commissioned images by twelve of the UK’s leading artists to celebrate the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games were unveiled today. The artists are:
Olympic Posters
•    Martin Creed
•    Anthea Hamilton
•    Howard Hodgkin
•    Chris Ofili
•    Bridget Riley
•    Rachel Whiteread
Paralympic Posters
•    Fiona Banner
•    Michael Craig-Martin
•    Tracey Emin
•    Gary Hume
•    Sarah Morris
•    Bob and Roberta Smith
London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Posters

From today, members of the public will be able to buy copies of the images as both posters and limited edition prints. The images will go on show at Tate Britain in a free exhibition as part of the London 2012 Festival in the summer of 2012, full details can be found on the festival website The images will also be featured as part of a high profile campaign to promote the London 2012 Games.

Since 1912 each Olympic host city has commissioned one or more posters to celebrate the hosting of the Games and since the first Paralympic games was held at Stoke Mandeville posters have also been commissioned for the Paralympic games.  Over the course of the last century a body of iconic work has been created and previous artists who have created a poster include David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol.

The official posters of the Games are now themselves a special celebration of the meeting of art and sport over the last 100 years. The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has sought to return to this artistic tradition, and has commissioned twelve of the UK’s leading artists to create images to celebrate London hosting the 2012 Games, six for the Olympic Games and six for the Paralympic Games.

LOCOG worked with Tate and the Plus Tate Group (a group of 19 regional galleries across the UK), who together compiled a long list of over 100 artists for consideration. This long list was then reduced to a final list of 12 by a panel comprising Nicholas Serota (Tate Director), Tamsin Dillon (Head of Art on the Underground), Judith Nesbitt (Tate - Head of National/International Initiatives), Carl Freedman (Counter Editions) Ruth Mackenzie (Director, Cultural Olympiad & London 2012 Festival) and Greg Nugent (LOCOG Director of Brand and Marketing ).

London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Posters

The primary objective of the panel was artistic excellence and some of the UK’s greatest artists have been commissioned (four of the chosen artists have previously won the Turner Prize and five have represented the UK at the Venice Biennale). The brief for the artists encouraged them to celebrate the Games coming to London and to look at the values of the Olympic and Paralympic games.  Each image is a distinct interpretation of either the Olympic or Paralympic Games by the individual artists and the diversity of the series demonstrates the extraordinary creative talent that exists within the UK.  The individual images are each described below.

Nicholas Serota, Director, Tate, said: 'We are delighted that British artists have produced such compelling images in response to the Olympic and Paralympic Games'.

A set of the images has been given to the Queen for the Royal Collection and to other important British art collections, including the Government Art Collection (which will be displaying the images in 10 Downing St in 2012) and the British Council (which is planning on exhibiting the images across China in 2012 as part of 'UK Now', the largest festival of British arts ever to be shown in China, as well as displaying the posters in British Council’s across the world).

The images will also be available to buy as both posters and limited edition prints from 15.00 GMT today.  The posters (at a cost of £7) and a small number of limited edition prints will be available to order on the London 2012 online shop. The limited edition prints will also be for sale individually and as a special boxed set from Counter Editions, the publisher of the prints. Full details on the posters, limited edition prints and free exhibition at Tate Britain can be found on the London 2012 Festival website.

London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Posters


Martin Creed - Work No. 1273
In a visually saturated world, artists can be faced with seemingly endless possibilities and choices. In response, Martin Creed imposes simple rules on his creativity. He might create a painting using only paintbrushes bought in a multi-pack, or make only one mark a day with the same felt-tip pen until the whole paper surface is covered. Repetition, stacks, and intervals are familiar motifs in his work, along with ascending and descending structures. For Work No.1273, Creed has made five single brush marks using a palette derived from the Olympic colours. The marks are arranged in an ascending form that seems to represent an extended podium offering places beyond first, second and third. Creed’s image can be seen as expressing respect for the excellence of all competing Olympic sportsmen and women.

Anthea Hamilton - Divers
Anthea Hamilton creates narrative environments through sculptural assemblage and collage. Her work in part is informed by the history of physical prowess and representations of the human, especially female, body. In Divers the poised legs seem to capture a gymnastic pose or show, perhaps a synchronised swimmer diver holding a balletic position. Interestingly, the only Olympic sport exclusively contested by women is synchronised swimming. Divers evokes the engaging theatricality of synchronised swimming, perhaps the most artistically challenging sport of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Howard Hodgkin – Swimming
Howard Hodgkin describes his paintings as representational pictures of emotional situations. For his Olympic print Hodgkin has created Swimming – a deep, swirling mass of blue flooding across the page. In the darkest area of colour the outline of a figure can be made out as if pushing off after a tumble turn.  The fluidity of the brushstrokes perfectly captures the movement of water and the sensation of swimming.

Chris Ofili - For the Unknown Runner
Chris Ofili creates paintings inspired by personal experience, race, folklore, biblical narrative, and, for the last few years the island of Trinidad where he lives. In For the Unknown Runner a figure, somewhere between super-athlete and mythical being, sprints past a watching crowd. The figure is framed by a vase motif - a reference to the Ancient Olympic Games, which provided an arena for artistic and cultural expression as well as sporting excellence. For the Unknown Runner is a powerful dedication to both Olympic history and the future stars of the London 2012 Games.

London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Posters

Bridget Riley – Rose Rose
Bridget Riley is one of the most original painters of our time and is celebrated for her optically vibrant paintings. By manipulating relationships between colours and shapes, she creates illusions of movement and light.  For her Olympic print, Riley has arranged colours in horizontal stripes, indicating the direction of athletic tracks or swimming lanes. The relationships between the colours create a sensation of movement capturing the energy of sport and the Olympic Games.

Rachel Whiteread – LOndOn 2O12
While Rachel Whiteread is best known for her sculptural work, drawing has always remained a critical part of her practice. She has described drawing as being like a diary of her work, whilst memory remains a key theme. For her print, she has composed a pattern of overlapping rings in the Olympic colours. The rings explore the emblem of the Olympic Games, and also represent marks left by drinking bottles or glasses. They act as memories of a social gathering, such as the athletes in the stadium during the opening ceremony or the spectators of the Olympic Games.

London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Posters


Fiona Banner - Superhuman Nude
Fiona Banner creates nude studies from life, transcribing physical scenarios into verbal descriptions.  These ‘wordscapes’ define the shapes and forms of the body as well as fleeting moments such as the tension in a second of shared eye contact, or a nervous finger tapping. Banner’s print is a nude study of a Paralympic Athlete. The title alludes to the extraordinary physicality of this body. She focuses on strength and physicality but also on the fragility of a human  awaiting competition.  Banner says ‘I liked the idea of comparing the athlete to a superhero, with some extraordinary prosthetic gift. Looking at an athlete naked made them powerful and vulnerable at once.’

Michael Craig-Martin – GO
Michael Craig-Martin combines quotidian objects such as light bulbs, chairs, and umbrellas with everyday words.  His pairing of language and image is based on both familiar and unexpected associations. In combining the word GO with a stopwatch Craig-Martin conveys with a sense of immediacy the excitement and anticipation experienced in the moments before the starter pistol is fired, and the roar of the crowd as they encourage their favourite athlete towards the finish line.

London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Posters

Tracey Emin - Birds 2012
Always at the centre of her own world, Tracey Emin shares her life, beliefs and feelings through her work with compassion and wit.  Emin took the Paralympic values of Inspiration and Determination as the starting point for her print and created what she describes as a ‘love letter’.  Two small birds, delicately perched on branches, appear to kiss beneath the words ‘You inspire me with Your determination And I love you’.  The Agitos floats below them like feathers or leaves falling from the tree.  Birds have frequently appeared in Emin’s drawings to symbolise freedom and strength, whilst her use of handwritten text expresses personal thoughts and emotions.  Her print is an inspiring dedication to the Paralympic Games and athletes.

Gary Hume – Capital
Gary Hume creates paintings with distinctive colour palettes, reduced imagery, and rich surfaces.  Hume has abstracted elements from an image of a wheelchair-tennis player, combining them with foliage and a soft and subtle colour palette.  The large, circular form represents the wheel of the wheelchair and the black tennis ball hangs suspended in space, with the tennis racquet poised to smash the ball across the net.  The large circular form can also be seen as a mouth cheering from the audience.  Hume has created an aspirational image celebrating summer sport in London.

London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Posters

Sarah Morris - Big Ben 2012
Since the mid-1990s Sarah Morris has been creating complex, geometric, abstract paintings derived from cityscapes and architectural detail, origami patterns and signs and symbols.  To celebrate the Paralympic Games coming to London Morris has created an abstract representation of one of the city’s most iconic landmarks - Big Ben.  The grids and vivid colours create a sense of dynamism and also evoke images of athletic tracks, swimming lanes, and field markings.

Bob and Roberta Smith - LOVE
Bob and Roberta Smith use the immediacy of language to create hand-painted signs on pieces of found wood.  These signs – painted in the style of community action banners, street signs, and fun fair posters - relay direct and often humorous messages.  Taking the values of the Paralympic Games as a starting point, Bob and Roberta Smith propose the core elements of the athlete experience: courage, inspiration, love, and of course sweat.