There’s plenty of room for disagreement about whether the upcoming Rio Olympics will be a boon or bust; in fact, 50 percent of Brazilians responding to a new poll out today said they thought it was a bad idea to be hosting the megaevent.
But the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee broke with tradition to provide a showcase for Brazilian creativity. Official posters have been an Olympic staple since 1912; they are selected by the organizing committee and treated as historical artifacts of each edition of the Games.
By contrast, the Rio Olympics has 13 posters, produced by 12 Brazilian artists — Alexandre Mancini, Antônio Dias, Beatriz Milhazes, Claudio Tozzi, Ana Clara Schindler, Gringo Cardia, Gustavo Greco, Gustavo Piqueira, Guto Lacaz, Juarez Machado, Kobra and Rico Lins — and one Colombian, Olga Amaral. The Rio 2016 Committee selected the works based on recommendations from some of the country’s top artistic institutions, including Inhotim, the São Paulo Museum of Art, and the Museum of Tomorrow.
“We wanted to do something different from previous Olympics,” said Carlos Arthur Nuzman, head of the Rio 2016 Committee. “We wanted to have a collection of artists who could lend their sensibility to the games. The result is spectacular.”
Some of the artists were present at the unveiling of the posters at Rio’s Museum of Tomorrow. Machado, whose piece depicts a chiseled figure carrying the Olympic torch across Oscar Niemeyer’s iconic Copacabana sidewalks, said all he had to do for inspiration was to peek out the window of his Copacabana studio.
Mancini, who specializes in ceramic tiles panels, said he based his piece on abstract geometric elements reminiscent of the Brazilian flag and the Olympic rings — and he admitted to a long-time fascination with Olympic posters.
“My personal favorites are the posters of the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, the 1968 Olympics in Mexico, and the 1972 Munich Olympics,” he said. “They are powerful influences, and we see how they last for decades, as if telling a piece of human history. It’s even a bit scary to think I am now part of this history.”
Carla Camurati, director of culture for the Rio Olympics, said the posters will be on display at the museum until July 25, after which they will be moved to Deodoro Olympic park in the city’s North Zone — but of course replicas of the posters will be for sale at the museum’s store and at the official Rio 2016 stores, though unfortunately not online.
With reporting by Agência Brasil; photos by Cristina Indio do Brasil/Agência Brasil