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 71.

    If it was the work of the occupants of the primate house in London Zoo, then well done those apes. However, the saddening fact is that this is the work of so-called Homo Sapiens, or should that be work executed for and on behalf of the genus "Homo Saps" otherwise known as the taxpayer?

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    I am totally lost for words to decscibe the posters. Oh wait just remembered a couple. Absolute crap.
    Like others I would be interested to know what these talentless individuals have been paid for such rubbish. And to insult us by trying to expalin what we are looking at only makes it more laughable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    Well they sum up my fellings about the Olympics perfectly,they are a waste of time and money too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    Oh Dear there is absolutely nothing to say
    What a shambolic attempt by "critics/artists" who should know better
    Why not let the youth design the posters and make the so called artists see the passion in art that goes beyond a pay cheque.Make them pay the money (which I assume came from our taxes) back.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    First the dreadful 2012 logo that still jars the senses, the sculpture and now this load of rubbish. A complete and utter lack of talent and imagination. If I was an an English man I would be outraged. If I was a Londoner I would be mortified.
    There are talented artists out there who would give anything for the opportunity to showcase their work.
    What is the Tate thinking?

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    re digbic. So art is about the amount of time you put into it, is it? I have a sense that if we were surrounded by the commentators here at any given point in art history, most of the art we claim to acknowledge as 'great' would never have seen the light of day. So the question is then, what is art?. What should these artists have created to please you all? Answers?

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    Try watching the posters in slideshow mode while playing to 'Left bank two' by The Noveltones in the background. You would believe Tony Hart was still with us.

    All that is missing is the handwritten tags under the pictures saying 'Tracy Emin aged 5', 'Howard Hodgkin aged 3' etc etc

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    Is it any surprise? I've seen much better exectued work from primary school children. Have another look at what was adopted as the official logo for the London Games that set the benchmark for the standards we see today. What a load of old carp!

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    The beeb have made a mistake, these efforts were the winners of the competition for wallpaper in the Olympic Village.
    The real ones will arrive soon.
    Then i wake up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    How embarassing that these awful posters are representing our country. They mostly look like things you would find on the wall of a primary school classroom. I'd love to know how much was paid to the artists who produced this rubbish. One of them looks like someone has dipped a coffee mug in poster paints, and the others are equally poor. Do they represent the level of our national enthusiasm ?

  • 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 60.

    What were they thinking??
    Where's the Art?

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    Artistic bankruptcy that foreshadows the fiscal bankruptcy that the 2012 Olympic 'games' will bring to the UK, in spite of the brave face being paraded at the moment. Has anyone noticed that the execrable 'grafitti' logo seems to have been quietly dropped since the civil disorder of 2011?

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    Surely if you need an explanation of what each picture 'represents'm, then it's not a very good picutre....

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    Would have achieved far better results if they'd run a competition through Blue Peter!

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.


    lol.the reason I didn't do it was simple.I wouldn't have had the gaul to pass of this poster crap as art.I'd be ashamed to do so.If you can look at art,be it a painting,insatallation etc and think I could reproduce that in a few minutes with no hassle then it hasn't really used a lot of talent or time therefore not art.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    How old are these "artists"? Some of them look like they were designed by a two year old. It's rubbish.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    They should have given the chance to do these "posters" to primary school children rather than the so-called artists that have "created" these monstrosities. Nothing more than utter rubbish produced by a bunch of "artists". And I pay tax for this?

  • 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?

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    @shaneberlin I'm sure if these commentors were given the chance to do the art they would have, the selection process is weighted by how big an impact they have had on the artworld and represent the UK. That said they have all let themselves down, shameful. Banner and Morris and Whiteread have done a good job, Hamilton's is iconic enough to get the 'Official' status. Fail LOCOG!


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