London 2012 Festival: Steel Buttocks And Naked Cyclists - The Official 2012 Olympic Poster Images Are Unveiled

Steel Buttocks And Naked Cyclists: The Official 2012 Olympic Poster Images Are Unveiled

Two birds gently kissing, a swirling blue mass and a nude study of a Paralympic cyclist including words such as "steel buttocks" and "absurdly muscly" are among the 12 official poster images for the London 2012 Games.

The images, designed by 12 top British artists, including four Turner Prize winners and five who have represented the UK at the Venice Biennale, are now part of a tradition dating back to 1912. David Hockney, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein have created posters for previous Games.

A set of the images has been given to the Queen for the Royal Collection and to other important British art collections. They will be displayed in 10 Downing Street in 2012 as part of the Government Art Collection and the British Council is planning to exhibit the images in 2012 as part of UK Now, the largest festival of British arts yet to be shown in China.

Tracey Emin, Martin Creed, Bridget Riley, Fiona Banner, Michael Craig-Martin, Anthea Hamilton, Howard Hodgkin, Gary Hume, Sarah Morris, Chris Ofili, Bob and Roberta Smith and Rachel Whiteread make up the dozen artists who designed an image. Their brief was to celebrate the Games coming to London and to look at the Olympic and Paralympic values.

Each created an image for either the Olympics or Paralympics which will go on sale to the public as £7 posters and limited edition prints.

Emin sees her London 2012 sketch of two small birds as a "love letter" or dedication to the Paralympic Games and its athletes. They sit on a branch beneath the words "You inspire me with Your determination And I love you." The Agitos, the Paralympic emblem, floats below them like feathers or leaves falling from the tree.

Emin used the Paralympic values of inspiration and determination as her starting point and then harked back to a familiar feature of her drawings. She uses birds to symbolise freedom and strength.

But the poster, called Superhuman Nude, created by Banner, is not an X-rated image. The descriptions about the strength and physical prowess of a top Paralympian help to make it more a more sculptural than a human form, the artist said.

The London 2012 artists beat more than 100 rivals for the assignment. The shortlist was selected by a committee chaired by Tate director Nicholas Serota, Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 executives plus officials from Art on the Underground, Tate and Counter Editions.

The images will also be shown in a free exhibition at Tate Britain as part of the London 2012 Festival.


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