Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Olympic Posters Through Time

 Athens 1896: No official poster was made for the 1896 Olympic Games, but the cover page of the official report is often used to refer to the Games of the I Olympiad. The inscription "776-1896", like the drawing as a whole: the Olympic stadium in a newly designed horseshoe shape, the Acropolis, the girl personifying the goddess Athena and presenting the branch of wild olive intended for the victor, mark the bond between the Games of Antiquity and the first Games of the modern era.



 Paris 1900: at the Universal Exhibition, certain events of international physical exercise and sports competitions were recognised as Olympic and made up the programme of the second modern Olympic Games. Several posters were created-athletics, rowing, cycling, fencing and gymnastics. 

Here, a female fencer holding in her right hand the three traditional weapons- foil, sword and sabre. However, it should be noted that women did not compete in the fencing competitions until 1924.


St Louis 1904: the poster shows a view of the host city, enhanced by the use of a "fish's eye" effect. It is the reproduction of the cover of the programme of the Games. 
London 1908: the poster represents the Olympic stadium in Shepherd's Bush. Behind the high jump, in the centre, the swimming pool and cinder track. 


Stockholm 1912: It represents the parade of nations, each athlete carrying a twirling flag and all going towards a common goal- the Olympic Games. The nudity of the athletes was a reference to the Games of Antiquity, although it was judged as too "daring" by some managers and not distributed in some countries.


 Antwerp 1920: the poster represents the flags of the participating nations all flying together. In the top right, the coat of arms of the organising city. In the centre, a discobolus, a reference to the Games of Antiquity. In the background, the city of Antwerp with the Tower of Notre Dame. 90,000 copies were made in 17 languages.

Paris 1924: the poster shows semi-naked athletes, a reminder of Antiquity, making the Olympic salute. In the background, the flag of the French Republic. In the foreground, palm leaves, symbols of victory. 


 Amsterdam 1928: the poster shows a runner in action holding a laurel branch, symbol of victory. In the bottom part, wavy lines in red, white and blue represent the colours of the Dutch national flag.


Los Angeles 1932: The poster symbolizes the ancient custom which consisted in sending a Greek athlete to announce the celebration of the next Olympiad and to request the cessation of hostilities. The modern young sportsman presents the laurel of peace.


 Berlin 1936: A competition was held for the design of the poster, but none of the entries were satisfactory. The publicity committee commissioned different artists and finally chose the project of Mr Würbel, that became the official poster.
It features the Quadriga from the Brandenburg Gate, a landmark of the city of Berlin. In the background is the figure of a wreathed victor, his arm raised in the Olympic salute, symbolising Olympic sport.

London 1948: the banner takes up the theme of the emblem i.e. the clock tower of the Houses of Parliament. The hands of the famous "Big Ben" are pointing to 4 o'clock, the time at which the opening of the Games was planned- accompanied by the Olympic rings. In the foreground, there was the drawing of the statue of the "Discobolus" (classical icon of the discus thrower from Ancient Greece).

 Helsinki 1952: It was the Paavo Nurmi poster, created for the 1940 Games, which were never held because of the Second World War. It was just updated with the dates and the lines around the countries, drawn in red on a globe in the background. 82,000 large format copies were made in nine languages and 33,000 small format copies in 20 languages.

 Melbourne 1956: the poster is in the form of an invitation card folded three times. On the first flap, the Olympic rings, in the background of the third flap, the arms of the city of Melbourne. 35,000 copies were made in two different formats (100 x 63.5cm and 50 x 32cm).

 Roma 1960: This was the result of a competition in which some 212 artists participated. It is made up of a Roman she-wolf, from which Remus and Romulus, founders of the city of Rome, are suckling, on top of a column. On this, there is a victorious athlete being crowned in accordance with Roman custom; around him, people dressed in togas cheering him.

Tokyo 1964: the poster recalls the official emblem, composed of the Olympic rings superimposed on the emblem of the Japanese national flag, representing the rising sun. There was a total of four official posters, all designed by Yusaku Kamekura. They were all made by photoengraving using several colours, highlighting the technology of the Japanese printing industry. The posters themselves received a number of prizes for their excellence, including the Milan Prize for poster graphics. 100,000 copies were made.


 Mexico 1968: The series of posters for these Games came from the collaboration of three artists: Pedro Ramirez Vazquez, architect and President of the Organising Committee for the Games, Eduardo Terrazas (MEX) and Lance Wyman (USA) who designed the “Mexico 68” logo. They then developed it to create the black and white poster, which recalls the patterns of the Huichole Indians. Some 25,000 copies of the poster presented here were produced in one of the following colours: blue, red, yellow, green or black.



Munich 1972: Numerous posters were created for these Games, notably a series on the theme of sports competitions and cultural events. 
The official poster was meant to promote not one specific sports event, but the whole of the Munich Games. It was supposed to express the specific spirit of the Games. Here, the design evokes the modern architecture of the sporting venues, in a style and using colours which are purposefully simple and pure. In the centre of the background, the famous Olympic tower. 


 Montreal 1976: the poster features the emblem of the International Olympic Committee. Entitled “The Invitation” and representing the five rings reflected symbolically by successive waves, this poster thus is inviting the athletes from all the continents to the 1976 Olympic Games. 




Moscow 1980: the poster featured the emblem of the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow - a section of a running track rising into an architectural silhouette typical of Moscow and a five-pointed star topping the silhouette. 



Los Angeles 1984: The star is a universal symbol of the highest aspirations of mankind, the horizontal bars portray the speed. 
Sixteen renowned artists designed 15 posters for the Games. The subsequent posters were signed by John Baldessari, Jennifer Bartlet, Jonathan Bofsky, April Greiman abd Jayme Odgers, Raymond Saunders and Garry Winogrand.


Seoul 1988: The official poster represented the Games ideal of "Harmony and Progress" in the combination of two images. In the poster, the five rings symbolising the pure Olympic spirit were rendered in bright figurative form to represent the Olympic ideal illuminating the world in peace forever. The image of the runner carrying the Olympic torch symbolised mankind's progress towards happiness and prosperity. The official posters were done with computer graphic techniques, and light blue and bright orange colours were blended to symbolise Korea as the Land of Morning Calm. In addition to the official poster the Organising Committee for the Seoul Games decided to produce 27 types of sports posters to introduce sports of the Seoul Olympic Games and to establish a familiar image of the Games.

Barcelona 1992: The Organising Committee for the Barcelona Olympic Games developed a highly ambitious project, which involved 58 different posters grouped in four collections : the official Olympic posters, the painters' posters, the designers' posters and the photographic sports posters.


 Atlanta 1996: The International Olympic Committee (IOC) President, Juan Antonio Samaranch, chose this image drawn by an artist from "The Look of the Games", Primo Angeli, as the official poster for the 1996 Olympic Games. "The Look of the Games", was established by the Creation Department to ensure the best quality in the design and production of all visible materials for the Atlanta Games.

Sydney 2000: To reflect a diversity of styles and techniques, the Organizing Committee asked several poster designers from a wide range of different creative and cultural backgrounds to create posters. In total, 50 posters were published. 
 Athens 2004: The 2004 Olympic Games emblem is a wreath made from an olive tree branch, or kotinos. The emblem is a reference to the ancient Olympic Games, where the kotinos was the official award of Olympic champions. In addition, the olive was the sacred tree of Athens. The colours of the emblem symbolise the shades of white and blue found in the Greek countryside. 
Beijing 2008: The official emblem of Beijing 2008 entitled "Chinese Seal-Dancing Beijing" cleverly combines the Chinese seal and the art of calligraphy with sporting features, transforming the elements into a human figure running forward and embracing triumph. The figure resembles the Chinese character "Jing", which stands for the name of the host city and represents a particularly significant Chinese style. 


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