The posters for the 2012 London Olympic Games have been revealed, and they’re a decidedly mixed bag. Following Germany’s example for the 1972 Munich games, the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games asked a host of artists, including Anthea Hamilton, Sarah Morris, and Bob and Roberta Smith, to visually capture the “values” of the games. The results vary as much in their message as in their style, with some artists embracing the project brief and others sidestepping it altogether.
To my mind, the standouts are clear: Sarah Morris’s geometric reinterpretation of Big Ben, which at least speaks to place, if not the games themselves; Howard Hodgkin’s energetic blue swirls in “Swimming”; and Martin Creed’s rendition of the winner’s podium. The obvious failures are the ones that bear no relationship to the games: Bridget Riley’s “Rose Rose,” Gary Hume’s “Capital,” and Tracey Emin’s “Birds 2012” may be pitch-perfect representations of the artists’ work, but they’re tone-deaf to context. These artists didn’t play by the rules, and that’s just poor sportsmanship.
The posters are available from the London 2012 shop for £7 (about $11) apiece. If you’re interested in purchasing a poster from the 1972 run, with graphics by the likes of Otl Aicher, Josef Albers, and David Hockney, visit Harvey Abrams-Books.
[Hat tip to Creative Review]