Pop Culture

The big reveal: All the official posters for the Olympic games in Rio (2016)

Olympic prints and posters have been commissioned by the Games since 1912. Now Rio 2016 has come round and Counter Editions are publishing eight limited edition works from artists including Eddie Peake, Sam Taylor-Johnson, David Shrigley and Tracey Emin for Team GB. Here we present all of the official posters, along with some of the inspirations behind them.

Benjamin Senior, Stroke Tempo (cover photo)
“I’m interested in the athletes’ moment of training – they try to attain perfect form, rhythm and balance. I aim to create visual metaphors for this in my design. My pictures are carefully choreographed moments. In this print, perfect bodies are woven together with abstract patterns. The swimmers are in the midst of training, fine honing their performance through repetition. Like an efficient machine, all the parts work in harmony with each other.”

‘It’s actually about my new life in California’

Sam Taylor-Johnson, Wanderer Above the Sea of Dreams

Sam Taylor-Johnson ‘Wanderer Above the Sea of Dreams” 2016 screen print edition of 100 76 x 60 CM

‘I screamed my head off during the London Games’

Tracey Emin, True Love Always Wins

Tracey Emin ‘True Love Always Wins’ 2016 lithograph edition of 300 76 X 60 CM

Sarah Jones, Cabinet Spiral

Sarah Jones ‘Cabinet (Spiral) 2016 inkjet photograph edition of 100 76 X 60 CM

Sarah Jones
“I was thinking firstly about the history of early Olympic posters. Also I wanted to use colours chosen for the Rio emblem to represent Brazil; blue, yellow, green.  The green glass object is a spiral. The spiral as a motif often represents energy in a number of cultures. The yellow sphere contains many other smaller yellow spheres, which made me think about aspiration and the constant effort and dedication required to achieve Olympic standards. It’s elevated on an upturned glass, hovering. Upheld. The objects are set against a blue backdrop, contained as if in a cabinet; preserved like a trophy. There’s a history of the Olympics being documented, drawn, pictured. It’s important to continue this; to celebrate achievement and a coming together and to reflect on such through artistic projects.”

‘The words could also describe group sex’

Eddie Peake, Sweat

Eddie Peake ‘Sweat’ 2016 screen print edition of 100 76 X 60CM

Eddie Peake
“I wanted to make a rave-y screen print edition in which each print is effectively unique because of the way that colors are blended in the screen-printing process. I wanted there to be text, and for the text to be a poetic but also literal description of watching the superhero – like athletes in the Olympics – and for the description to be one that could also be a applied to other situations like, say, group sex, or dancing with people at a nightclub.”

‘Artists tend to be non-sporty dweebs’

David Shrigley, Life Is Fantastic

David Shirgley ‘Life is Fantastic’ 2016 screenprint edition of 125 76 X 60CM

Howard Hodgkin, The Road to Rio

Howard Hodgkin ‘The Road to Rio’ 2016 screenprint edition of 30 76 x 60 CM

Anne Hardy, Reflection

Anne Hardy ‘Reflection’ 2016 inkjet photograph edition of 100 76 X 60CM

Anne Hardy
Reflection shows a space built in my studio, using salvaged materials, round mirrors, ropes and balls. It’s meant to suggest a space of action, potentially the residue of performances, exercises or games. I think about my photographic works and the installation works I make as physically existent ‘head’ spaces – physical projections of psychological spaces; liminal spaces at the periphery of our world that are a metaphor for something within us. I wanted to achieve a sense of anticipation, of what might, or already has happened.”

“I built this in my studio, using salvaged material, round mirrors, ropes and balls. It’s meant to suggest a place of action, the residue of performances, exercises or games. I think of my photographic works and installations as “head spaces” – physical representations of psychological states. They may seem peripheral, but they’re a metaphor for something within us.”


The official limited edition prints for Team GB at the Rio Games are available at countereditions.com.

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