London 2012: Olympic and Paralympic posters unveiled

LOVE in 2012 by Bob and Roberta Smith (detail)

A series of 12 Olympic and Paralympic posters, designed by leading UK artists including Tracey Emin and Chris Ofili, has been unveiled in London.

The images will be displayed in a free exhibition at Tate Britain next year, held as part of the London 2012 cultural festival.

Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota said organisers were "delighted" the artist had produced "such compelling images".

The unveiling followed the announcement of the arts festival's full programme.

The first thing to notice about the posters is how abstract they are, and how they could be for the Olympics at any time.

I can't remember seeing posters for the Olympics that don't directly relate to the host city or country. At the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 it was clear they were referring to Spain's flag, and for Sydney's games, an athlete in the shape of boomerangs was a clear nod to Australia.

But with this collection, you wouldn't know where the Games are being held. Maybe that in itself is a statement.

The six Olympic posters have been designed by Ofili, Martin Creed, Anthea Hamilton, Howard Hodgkin, Bridget Riley and Rachel Whiteread.

Their Paralympic counterparts are the work of Emin, Fiona Banner, Michael Craig-Martin, Gary Hume, Sarah Morris, and Bob and Roberta Smith - a pseudonym for the artist Patrick Brill.

The artists were encouraged to celebrate the Games coming to London and to look at the values of the Olympics and Paralympics.

The posters have such titles as Big Ben 2012, by Morris, Swimming, by Hodgkin, and Superhuman Nude, by Banner.

Earlier on Friday, the complete line-up of the London 2012 festival was unveiled at London's Theatre Royal Drury Lane.

The 12-week, UK-wide arts celebration marks the culmination of the four-year Cultural Olympiad and will run concurrently with the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Tracey Emin tells the BBC's Will Gompertz about the idea behind her poster

New events announced include a mass bell-ringing to mark the start of the Olympics on 27 July.

There will also be art installations at Stonehenge, Hadrian's Wall and other heritage sites.

They join previously announced events including the World Shakespeare Festival that will see the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre and Shakespeare's Globe join forces for the first time.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    As pieces of modern art, in the main, they are beautiful. The colours and the movement in the posters are lively and hugely interesting. It doesn't need to be obvious to be engaging. Open your eyes to something new and you might just find something which makes you think!

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    Awful. Juvenile. Uninspiring. The slection committee should be sacked and the posters rejected in favor of a new process staffed with people who not only understand quality art, but also the socio-historical context of the Olympics and Great Britian.

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    How can these posters promote the olympics when just by looking at most of them you can't actually tell what on earth they're supposed to be about. You need another poster pointing to it with an explanation! Why didn't they have a competition for school children across the country to design posters? I'm sure they would have done a much better job!

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    They look hideous .Barely anything linkling them to the Olympic ideals .Less about it being London. Too much flash too little content

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    I appreciate clever and effective art, but I am afraid some of these posters are a joke. I like the 'podium design' poster, but some of the others are as bad as the Olympics 2012 logo, and that's saying something. I agree with other comments, is this the best the UK can do?


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