This is one of the posters from the 1972 Munich Games (Olympische Spiele München 1972), and is part of the first ever artist-commissioned series. Olympic posters can suggest links between sport, art, politics, commerce and culture. Artists' posters have, since 1972, become a key part of the celebration of the Olympics. The 1972 Olympics aimed to promote a positive image of both international sporting activity and the modern German nation. The official motto of the event was 'The Happy Games'. But the Olympics were overshadowed by the killing of 11members of the
Israeli team by members of the Palestinian group 'Black September'. The crisis was one of the first news events to unfold globablly on live television.
The posters aimed to publicise the Games worldwide, ‘relating artistic activity to the Olympic Games’, an important part of Munich’s original Olympic bid. To achieve this, a partnership company, Edition Olympia 1972, was set up with publishing house F Bruckmann KG. Altogether five series of seven posters were printed in Germany. Three grades of posters were produced. The posters displayed here, all from the Walker Art Gallery’s permanent collection, are from the unlimited commercial editions. The Walker has 18 of the 35 posters from 1972. Two-thirds of the profits from poster sales went directly to funding the Games.
Artists selected by the organising committee represented both established and progressive trends in art. All had an international reputation, although less established artists were introduced later. Artists were free to choose their themes, but encouraged to incorporate a relationship with the Olympic idea.
David Hockney moved from England to California in 1963. It was there that his favourite swimming pool theme was developed. The challenge of showing reflections on water and glass fascinated Hockney. Stylistically, he borrowed from the conventions of comics and advertising illustration, using parallel and wriggly lines over strong, flat colours. When this poster was commissioned his reputation was becoming well-established and prints were already an important part of his artistic output. Hockney’s painting Peter Getting Out of Nick’s Pool, from the Walker Art Gallery’s collection, is on display in room 12.