The Cultural Legacy of Olympic Posters

Hughson, John orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7030-4806 (2010) The Cultural Legacy of Olympic Posters. Sport in Society, 13 (5). pp. 749-759. ISSN 1743-0437

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By the time of the London Olympic Games in 2012, posters – officially commissioned in one way or another by host cities – will have been used to promote the forthcoming occasion for 100 years. But existing as more than material artefacts with a use value in advertising, these posters can be considered as artistic offerings with an intrinsic aesthetic value. To state this is not unproblematic, as posters can also be embroiled in the political controversies that accompany the holding of the Olympic Games in particular cities at particular points of those cities' histories. And in nearly all cases of Olympic celebration, posters may be seen to serve an ideological/nationalistic function. Yet, opportunity to view and appreciate a comprehensive range of Olympic posters and associated imagery from the time of the first modern Games in 1896 – afforded by a 2008 exhibition held in London – gives idea as to how posters may be used to reignite the prospect of the ‘marriage of art and sport’ desired by Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Movement.

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