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.


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • 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 90.

    I agree with most of the others who say most of these designs aren't the best. They would not look out of place on a corridor wall in a primary school.

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    Were these the same artists who did the "innovative" designs for British Airways several years ago, which were expensively painted out soon after when they got the nickname "Graffiti Airways"? They may say that anyone who doesn't understand the beauty of their daubs is an imbecile, but in the best Hans Christian Andersen tradition, the Emperor is stark naked and the paintings are garbage.

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    How on earth do you celebrate something that many us never even wanted. Give us a break, it's not too late to cancel, even now. Besides the Greeks- who at least founded the damn thing may not be able to attend because of the Euro debacle. Now there's a supreme irony.

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    As an artist and an art educator in America, I rate these pieces as an embarrassing tribute to the athletes. I agree, scrap them and try again. Sadly I just taught a unit on Bridget Riley this week. Her work is the best displayed here but not "her" best. Was the artistic challenge to be slightly smarter than a year 1?

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    One or two good pieces of design here only; with our world leading creative and media industry why on earth did LOCOG not commission our best graphic designers to create something sharp and inspirational?! The visual collective 'identity' for the 2012 games is simply chaotic.

  • rate this

    Comment number 85. least we don't have to suffer more factory produced Damian Hirst tat !

  • 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 83.

    How embarassing. Its like watching an England batting collapse

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    A chimpanzee could do better...we must be a laughing stock in the eyes of the world.

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    1. Londoners walking to work.
    2 Escalator.
    3. Its raining again.
    4. Eric and Urnie.
    5. The 80's were great
    6. In memorial: Spirograph
    7.Trying to get on a tube train.
    8.Time and motion study: working from home.
    9. Tate and Lyle
    Not as abstract as you first imagine.

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    How about my alternative set of Olympic posters created from photos I've been taking daily of objects in my everyday life here in East London?

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    Unfortunately this demonstrates only too clearly the current state of British "art", dominated by charlatans whose main interest is money/notoriety. I'm glad to know that someone whose main artistic development has been to move from black & white into coloured lines some 20 years ago has been able to produce said coloured lines for the Olympics. Why not a public competition? Couldn't've been worse

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    Well Class, an average performance. Liked the Greek runner, stopwatch, sporty words etc, but I think many of you missed the theme comletely. You'll need a bit more practice with the poster paints before we can let you loose on your own. See me after school for a 6 mile cross country run to get you in the Olympic spirit!

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    Some of these are beyond awful.

    Hume's poster has the air of, "I've got something lying around the studio and I can reverse-engineer a statement. Will that do?". A tennis ball and a wheel chair wheel?! Please.

    Ofilli's vase is OK, I suppose. But I actually like Sarah Morris's vibrant Big Ben abstract.

    Tracey Emin's is infantile and glib. Inspiration and determination, eh? Who'd have thought?.

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.


    What is art?Well I'll tell you.It's when you look at something and you think to yourself no matter how hard I try and for how long I would never be able to do that.Not random brush strokes on paper or Tracey emin wiping her ass on bedsheets.if people get conned into thinking that's art then they are muppets.

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    What exactly do most of those posters have to do with the Olympics? Well after the awful logo, we couldn't really have expected anything better. I don't think I'm allowed to use the words about them that I'd like to, on here.

  • 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 73.

    I did'nt realise that to be one of the top artist's in this country you only needed to have the skills of an 8 year old!

    I might seriously have to think about changing my occupation as my artistic skills are only slightly better than say that of a 12 year old but at least that would put me on a higher level than this lot :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    I think some of them show an excellent interpretation of the commercial meaning behind the games. Get as much as you can for minimum input, cheque please!


Page 7 of 11


More Entertainment & Arts stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.