Olympic Posters Make a Leap
A dozen of Britain's leading artists were invited to design official posters for the Olympics and Paralympics, and some of these are so fine that art lovers with deep pockets will want to invest in a boxed set of the complete, signed limited editions from Counter Editions (wwwcountereditions.com/london2012), at £11,805. The rest of us will have to make do with those available at £7 each from shop.london2012.com, or a trip to the Tate Britain, where they're all on display in a free exhibition that runs from now until the London 2012 Festival ends Sept. 9.
Some of the posters rise well above the level of something to tack on a student's dormitory wall, which is a tribute to the taste of the mystery commissioners (their identities are concealed somewhere in the labyrinth of Olympics-related committees).
Chris Ofili's "For the Unknown Runner" has a classical urn containing one of his generic African figures, whose gender is cleverly made ambiguous by a thick black line. Rachel Whiteread's "LOndOn 2O12" plays on the five Olympic circles in a random and colorful way.
Tracey Emin's "Birds 2012," depicting two small birds on a branch kissing, looks too much like Mary Poppins hanging on to her open umbrella, and bears the scrawled caption, "You inspire me with Your determination And I Love You." It's the most expensive of the limited editions at £1,800, and, I'd say, is the least interesting.
Michael Craig-Martin's wonderfully colored blue stopwatch, done with his characteristic black-outlined precision, is simply called "GO." Howard Hodgkin's "Swimming" is a masterclass in blue (disclosure: both are good friends of mine). Most of the artists commissioned have contributed images that are typical of their work. But Mr. Hodgkin has done something remarkable, in that his picture appears to be abstract swirls of blue laid on with a heavily loaded, very wide brush—but from the lowest suggestion of a wave emerges the dark form of the heroic swimmer.—Paul Levy