When the London 2012 Olympics organisers announced plans to commission 12 artists to design the official posters for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, questions were raised both here and over at Creative Review about why artists had been selected instead of designers.
Well now you can see the results of the commissioning for yourself, as the 12 artists – among them Tracey Emin, Bob and Roberta Smith and Chris Ofili – have unveiled their designs, which will go on sale both as posters and limited-edition prints and also feature in a promotional campaign and a Tate Britain exhibition.
Six of the posters, by Martin Creed, Anthea Hamilton, Howard Hodgkin, Chris Ofili, Bridget Riley and Rachel Whiteread are for the Olympics. Of these, Hodgkin’s abstract blue Swimming poster is an obvious standout, while Riley has contributed part of her recent and rather lovely Rose Rose series – with the vertical lines recalibrated as horizontals to reference athletic tracks.
The six Paralympics posters, meanwhile, have been created by Fiona Banner, Michael Craig-Martin, Tracey Emin, Gary Hume, Sarah Morris and Bob and Roberta Smith. There’s a definite and welcome graphics focus among these, particulary evident in Morris’, while Banner’s Superhuman Nude is striking but possibly a little text-heavy.
The 12 artists were chosen from an initial longlist of more than 100, which was compiled by the London Organising Committee for the Olympics Games with Tate.
A judging panel featuring Tate director Nicholas Serota and Cultural Olympiad director Ruth Mackenzie then selected the final list and commissioned each artist to create ‘a distinct interpretation of either the Olympic or Paralympic Games’.
Alongside today’s poster reveal, the Cultural Olympiad has also launched its full programme for the London 2012 Festival, a 12-week art-led event that will run next year alongside the Olympics.
The design highlight here is unquestionably the major solo exhibition of Heatherwick Studio’s work at the V&A, entitled Designing the Extraordinary, while plans for installations by Anthony McCall – for a vertical, spinning column of cloud above Wirral Waters – and by Rachel Whiteread – for the façade of the Whitechapel Gallery – also sound intriguing.
Martin Creed, meanwhile, is encouraging everyone in the country to mark the opening day of the Olympics by taking part in his Work No. 1197: All the bells in a country rung as quickly and loudly as possible for three minutes. A collaborative work, you can apparently take part using church bells, handbells, bike bells or just your doorbell.
The posters are available from www.london2012.com/shop and the London 2012 Festival runs from 21 June-9 September 2012.
All images © London 2012