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Modern icons? - London's Controversial Olympic Posters

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  • Love it or hate it, modern, abstract BritArt is back in the headlines this month with the launch of the 2012 London Olympic poster series. The designs are for the Games’ official commemorative posters which will be shown around the world over the next ten months.

    A predictable cry of ‘infant school art’ from the UK's Daily Mail has been tempered by a more informed ‘touching idealism’ from The Guardian. Art critics are kinder, but it seems members of the public were hoping for a more ‘crowd-centric’ approach.

    The twelve leading UK artists selected to design the posters, including four Turner prize-winners, have stirred up quite a storm despite following in the footsteps of art greats David Hockney, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichenstein, all of whom created posters for previous Games.


    My favourite, Sir Howard Hodgkin’s blue swimming splodge is an absolute delight for the senses. Water, the pool, diving, movement. Poetry in motion.

    Rachel Whiteread’s random repetitive bright circles in ‘London 2012’ appeals to the textile designer inherent in me, as does Sarah Morris’s abstract ‘Big Ben 2012’. I love the tonal elements, leaves and circles of Gary Hume’s  ‘Capital’ but don’t see it’s relevance. Others appealed less to me.

    London based graphic designer, Sarah Hyndman, was one who felt she could do better, releasing ‘the alternative London 2012 posters’ to reflect ‘the everyday of living and working in London’. She plans to release a new poster on her blog, every day in the lead up to the start of the Games, using every day objects and food, arranged into groups of five to resemble the Olympic rings logo.

    For me, whilst there are merits in both approaches, I’d lose the lot in favour of Sir Howards splodge.

    What do you think?


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