When art and sport come together, awe-inspiring imagery and experiences are born. There is no better example of this than when world-class artists are chosen to create artwork for the Olympic Games.
In celebration of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, Brazil, we invite you to discover which artists with Park West Gallery have stepped onto the world’s stage to become Olympic artists.
Among the many accomplishments of pop artist Peter Max’s long-standing career are two that center on the Winter Olympics.
In 2002, Max unveiled a giant mural in Salt Lake City for the Winter Olympics featuring artwork collected from youth across the United States. The artwork was featured on a commemorative poster, and proceeds benefited the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.
“Through this Olympic mural, I am able to share the inspiration and creativity of children across the country with the people of Salt Lake City and athletes and visitors from around the world,” Max said in a written statement.
His second brush with the Olympics came in 2006 when Max was named the official artist of the U.S. Olympic Team for the Winter Olympics held in Turin, Italy. He created a commemorative poster that features colorful, cosmic characters competing in downhill skiing.
Romero Britto is the latest addition to the illustrious club of Park West artists who have created art for the Olympics. Britto was chosen to be Brazil’s ambassador for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, and also partnered with Coca-Cola to create limited-edition bottles, artwork and pins to celebrate the Olympics in Brazil.
In addition to the artwork, Coca-Cola nominated Britto to carry the Olympic torch through his hometown of Recife.
“As a Brazilian it is a wonderful feeling to be nominated as a Rio 2016 Olympic Torchbearer in my country. It’s a unique opportunity and I want to help promote it and show that art also spreads happiness through its essence and its colors,” says Britto.
Park West Gallery is pleased to work with Charles Fazzino, who creates eye-popping works by layering cutouts of his images atop one another. His three-dimensional style has been tapped in order to tell the story of major events, such as Major League Baseball All-star Games, Grammy Awards and Super Bowls. This includes creating intricate and colorful works based on the Olympic Games, including limited-edition pins for NBC commemorating the winter and summer games of the past four years.
Simon Bull was selected alongside Thomas Kinkade to commemorate the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. Regarding the event, then-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani commented that Bull was “one of the most popular and collected living artists of our time” in a written statement.
This isn’t Bull’s only connection to the Olympics. In 2012, Bull painted a portrait of Olympic 10,000-meter gold medalist Mohamed “Mo” Farah on behalf of the Mo Farah Foundation. Bull also had the honor of working with another Olympian, boxing legend Muhammad Ali, in 2004 on a limited series of paintings. Ali competed in the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, then known as Cassius Clay.
Sam Park’s New Impressionism style was on full display during the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. Park returned to his home country of Korea in 1984 to participate in a national, Olympic-inspired art competition for the 1988 Summer Olympics. Among the 2,000-plus entrants, Park won and received a Gold Medal. The painting Park created for the competition was subsequently purchased by the Hyundai Corporation for permanent display in its headquarters.
Known for his hyper-realism, Alexander Chen caught the eye of not only the U.S. Olympic Committee, but the Beijing Olympic Committee. Chen created originals for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing for the U.S. Olympics team and later for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
“I went back to Beijing and I took more than 1,000 photos, then I come home and organized it and chose the best angle [so that it] shows a lot of different things,” Chen said of creating his 2008 Olympics art.
Chen, who was born in China and moved to the U.S., has the honor of being the only artist to have been sanctioned by both the Beijing and U.S. Olympic Committees.
Alfred “Alex” Gockel likes to touch the viewer’s soul with his vibrant colors, and this effect, combined with his energetic style, made him a perfect choice for the U.S. Olympic Committee, who asked him to create official artwork for the 2006 Winter Olympics. The artwork (available through Park West) is inspired by high-speed winter sports such as hockey, bobsled and downhill skiing, appropriate subjects for this “action painter.”
“Because of my strong use of color, people get a positive feeling about my work,” he once said. “It’s fun and exciting. There is a degree of energy in my brushwork that people can relate to. I like to think of it as work that will recharge your mind every day.”
Painter and sketcher LeRoy Neiman was known for his ability to capture kinetic energy and action in his paintings. He covered five Olympiads, starting with the 1960 Winter Games in Squaw Valley, followed by the 1972 games in Munich, Montreal in 1976, Lake Placid in 1980 and Sarajevo in 1984.
The majority of Neiman’s works covers sporting events, whether Olympics, Super Bowls, boxing matches or horse races, but also portraits of celebrities, performers and athletes. Neiman is also known for contributing to the very first issue of “Playboy” magazine.