No Medals For London’s Olympic Posters

by Ray Ally on November 24, 2011

The official posters for the London 2012 Olympics were unveiled earlier this month in London. Despite being created by some of Britain’s best artists, the response from the public and the press has been largely negative. With comments ranging from “absolute rubbish” to “my two year old baby could of done better”.

Art has always been subjective and even controversial. Dividing people between those who prefer a classical realistic style with others who favour a modern abstract approach to art. The British public may not be the best judge of art, but they have been very vocal in their dislike of the style of these posters.

The big issue for me is not the style, but the content of the posters, which seemed to have missed an important part of the brief. Firstly; to embody “the values of the Olympic Games” and secondly; and most importantly, to “celebrate the Games coming to London”.

This is the main reason why I think the posters don’t work. So we have ended up with a generic set of images than fail to communicate these two key themes. After all, the world is coming to London for the games and we have missed an opportunity to promote the energy, culture and colour of the city, which is a huge part of the Olympic event.

Perhaps I am overly London centric being a Londoner myself. But I witnessed the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and I know how important the art and culture of the city was to the spirit of the games. The posters for the Beijing Olympics combined the city’s ancient heritage and culture with a modern approach to art and architecture. Although the style was conservative, at least there was a strong idea, which captured the flavour of the city and the games.

The posters for the London Games were created by some of the UK’s leading artists including Bridget Riley, Howard Hodgkin, and Rachel Whiteread. All of whom are award winning and celebrated within the art community for their unique and if at times controversial work.

Sadly I don’t think any of them are memorable, inspiring and fully answer the brief they were set. Although if I had to choose one, it would be Whiteread’s, “LOndOn 2O12” because of the Olympic circles and it’s energy and graphic simplicity.

Overall these posters wont be winning any medals, as they are just a bunch of also rans and will soon be forgotten. Which is a shame as we have used some of Britain’s best artists, who are world class – but on this occasion have failed to perform. Lets hope our athletes don’t suffer the same fate, but bring home the medals on the day.

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