Olympic Games, Stockholm, 1912


The Stockholm Olympiad of 1912 marked the transition of the modern Olympic Games from what had been a modest-sized athletic competition into a global media event. The preparation and build-up for the games, the venues built especially for them, and media exposure all began to overshadow the fabric of the athletic competitions themselves. This media event emphasized both global and national dimensions and was meticulously conceived by the organizers. Recognizing that technology was evolving quickly and that visual images crossed borders unhindered, the committee mounted an innovative international media campaign. The task of creating the most lasting visual image of this campaign was entrusted to Swedish painter and illustrator Olle Hjortzberg (1872–1959), who recognized the efficacy of poster art and its power in advertising. Ignoring the specifics of the games themselves, he concentrated instead on classical perceptions of the human body and the portrayal of this Olympiad as an intertwined global venue. Adapted to the needs of particular markets and to standards of propriety in cultures far removed from the one in which it was created, this image spread worldwide.

Last updated: June 28, 2013