Poster for the 1984 Summer Olympic Games held in Los Angeles, California

Poster for the 1984 Summer Olympic Games held in Los Angeles, California

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Description (Brief)
Raymond Saunders’ poster is part of a fifteen poster set commissioned by the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee (LAOOC) for the Games of the XXIIIrd Olympiad in 1984. The signed limited edition (750) prints were created by both internationally known American artists and young emerging local artists selected by the Committee to commemorate the Games, and Los Angeles’ and the United States’ unique contribution to the contemporary art scene.
The modern Olympic movement, founded by Baron de Coubertin, emphasized the development of a ‘total person’ and included art and a cultural Olympiad as a creative complement to athletic demonstrations. Posters have acted as a primary expression of the Games since the modern revival in 1896; each represented by an official poster. They have also served as announcements, souvenirs, fine art prints, and visual reminders throughout the history of the Olympics, ancient and modern.
Saunders (1934- ) was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and currently resides and works in Oakland, California where he is a professor of painting at California College of Arts – his alma mater. Saunders completed his MFA at the College of Arts after studying at the University of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Barnes Foundation, eventually receiving his BFA from Carnegie Institute of Technology in his native Pittsburgh.
Saunders’ contribution to the LA art posters reflects his signature assemblage style. Often juxtaposing words with images and merging various media, especially chalk on black painted backgrounds, Raymond’s expressive style and color are represented in his poster. His chalked announcement of the 1984 LA Olympics is accompanied by his characteristically flattened background, and expressionistic bold strokes in his heart imagery. Saunders has engaged with sports before, depicting boxing great Jack Johnson in a work by the same name in 1971, now located at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia.
The 1984 Summer Olympics, also known as the Games of the XXIII Olympiad were held in Los Angeles, California with 140 countries, 5,263 men and 1,566 women athletes participating. These Games were boycotted by fourteen countries, including the Soviet Union because of America’s boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics due to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. American Carl Lewis won four gold medals in track and field while Joan Benoit won gold for the U.S. in the first women’s marathon. Mary Lou Retton dominated women’s gymnastics becoming the first American to win the gymnastics all-around competition and the American men won the gold in the gymnastics team competition. With the addition of women’s only events of rhythmic gymnastics and synchronized swimming and the addition of women’s events in track and field, shooting and cycling, women athletes were just beginning to see results from Title IX legislation of twelve years prior. The United States won the medal count with 174.
Currently not on view
Object Name
poster, olympics
date made
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 36 in x 24 in; 91.44 cm x 60.96 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee (through Carol Daniels)
Olympic Summer Games: Los Angeles, 1984
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Cultural and Community Life: Sport and Leisure
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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