Sunday, July 29, 2012

Olympics posters through the years

Did you know that the five Olympic rings are the most recognized symbol in the world? They're pretty great as icons, but the posters used to promote the event are not always as successful. Here are some samples; what's your view of the most and least attractive?


 
















How do you think the opening ceremony stacked up? I was kind of underwhelmed by the Paul McCartney finale (and, honestly, by the Queen's tepid pronouncement). For the inevitable longeurs in Olympic watching (if you're not taping, that is), how about picking up The Best American Sports Writing 2011?

9 comments:

  1. The efforts of Her Majesty NOT to be tepid included that trompe l'oeil skydiving act. What did you think of it? I'm imagining Henry VIII parachuting onto the Cloth of Gold...he wouldn't use a stunt double!
    It was obvious the Brits wanted to equal the success of the Beijing ceremonies, but their ideas bordered on the baffling and (Matt Lauer said it) creepy. The music was awful--what I heard of it; I left early to rest my ears.
    Re: the posters. I love the white horses! Did they have chariot races back in 1916? If so, why would they ever stop?

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    1. Just checked out Wikipedia, which says the 1916 Summer Olympics was scheduled to take place in Berlin, and were cancelled because of World War I. Were substitute games held in Amsterdam, or was this poster made for an event that never took place? Will look further.

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    2. giocondasstopped hummingJuly 30, 2012 at 6:28 AM

      No evidence to support movement of games to Amsterdam--(illogical--would the war not be in Amsterdam?) Found a poster on "Olympic Games Museum" for Berlin 1916. (blue with winged victory giving laurel to young man)
      I guess my tickets to the chariot races in Piccadilly no good either...darn!
      Bad news for the two 1940 posters (for Helsinki and Tokyo)--1940 games cancelled too. I heard the weather was really bad in Tokyo that year!:-)

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    3. giocondaoverandoutJuly 30, 2012 at 9:07 AM

      Need to clarify a point--official posters exist even if the games are cancelled, and the Helsinki looks legit. The Tokyo one is too modern looking, but hey, we're not talking Renaissance art here!

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  2. For some reason I hate the Sydney and Barcelona. The Mexico one is kind of radical. I guess it's hard to bridge the gap between the representational and the symbolic. The Paris and Stockholm ones are very much on the side of male pulchritude; the St Moritz looks like a travel poster ... I don't think there are any I would like to hang on my wall.

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    1. I agree with Sydney and Barcelona. The late 90s/early 2000s was a very awkward time for design.

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    2. Agreed. The Sydney looks like a bad travel poster, maybe for islands in the Mediterranean, and the Barcelona, maybe a vodka ad. But I think they pale beside Mexico ’88... or I guess it's supposed to be ’68, op art at its most annoying (or seizure inducing). The 'Dancing Beijing' figure in the 2008 poster, purported to be a combination of a Chinese dragon, calligraphy, and someone crossing a finish line, is pretty bad as well. It looks more like a person coming apart, perhaps throwing his or her hip out of joint.

      Canada 1976, for some reason, reminds me of an ineffective public service ad, maybe a 'Stop Smoking' campaign. My favorites are the three from Tokyo, especially the one using Osamu Hayasaki’s compelling photo. And the winter scene, St. Moritz 1948, is quite charming.

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  3. Most of these are surprisingly awful... The first two and Sydney 2000 look like bad t-shirt designs. Both Los Angeles are terrible. The one from 1984 looks like a car logo... I almost like the Switzerland 1948, but it looks a little too much like a greeting card. Favorites are probably Rome and London 1948. The discus thrower was a nice touch.

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  4. I like the colors of the flags in Antwerp 1920. Modern posters are too stylized, as if someone was afraid of offending a country by showing an identifiable race or type. Athletes are beautiful.

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