Images of the Games through History
Published by Reaktion Books & distributed by the University of Chicago Press
Publication date: June 15, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-86189-910-1 224 pages; 80 color plates, 70 halftones Cloth ▪ $35.00
On July 27, lavish opening ceremonies will kick off the London Olympic Games. Over the following fifteen days, the world’s top athletes will give their home countries innumerable moments of triumph, heartbreak, and history that will be captured for posterity. These images will join the likes of African American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos protesting racial segregation in the United States in 1968, Hitler watching the Berlin Olympics in 1936, and Michael Phelps’ photo finish in the 100-meter butterfly to win his seventh of a record eight medals in 2008.
Since its creation in 1896, the Olympic Games have produced iconic images such as these, but while billions across the globe watch this showcase of fitness, strength, and skill, few understand how the pictorial legacy of the Games continues to shape the way the events are viewed today. Olympic Visions explores how painters and sculptors, photographers and filmmakers, and architects and designers have helped to affect the consciousness of spectators around the world. Mike O’Mahony describes and analyzes documentary photographs, posters, and other images from the Olympics throughout history. He also looks at the many special objects, including coins, medals, and sculptures, that have been made to commemorate the games. His detailed insights into the world of Olympic artifacts, combined with the beautiful illustrations included here, present a crucial addition to our understanding of the Games and the way we watch them. Olympic Visions will be an essential companion to viewers tuning in to cheer their national teams to triumph and glory.
Mike O’Mahony is a senior lecturer in the History of Art Department at the University of Bristol.