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The Best Winter Olympic Art Prints

  • 3 min read

The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics has officially opened with a lavish Russian ceremony. To celebrate the costliest Olympic Games in history we have decided to don Alpine jumpers, open a bottle of vodka and admire our favourite winter sports related art...

The relationship between art and sport has been hot topic since London hosted the Olympics in 2012. Sometimes it is a challenge to think of truly great artworks depicting sporting activities, but rest assure we have found some marvellous examples with a wintery twist. We’ve also found this inspirational quote from legendary sports fan Nelson Mandela:

“Art and sport have the power to change the world, the power to inspire, the power to unite people in a way little else can. Art and Sport speak to people in a language they understand. Art and sport can create hope where there was once only despair.” (Nelson Mandela)

So don’t despair if you’re not the ‘sporty’ type, celebrate the winter Olympics in style with these great prints -

‘Skaters’ by Cyril Power

At number one is 'Skaters', a dynamic limited edition giclee of a 1932 linocut by British artist Cyril Power. This graphic and lively print by Power, who trained as architect, was influenced by Sonja Henie, a Norwegian Olympic gold medal figure skater. Sonja Henie rose to fame in the 1920s and ‘30’s. She first won the World Championship in 1927 and continued to win for the next nine successive years. 1932, the year this linocut was created, is the year that Henie won her second (of three) Olympic gold medal. Henie won more Olympic and World titles than any other female figure skater.

Sonja Henie was also a glamorous and beautiful film star. At the height of her acting career she was one of the highest paid stars in Hollywood. For her figure skating, she was in part trained by a ballet instructor and it has been suggested that her film star looks, dancer’s abilities and high cut skirts dramatically increased the popularity of the sport! Cyril Power clearly delights in the graceful movement of figure skaters in this beautiful print, depicting their balletic postures and fashionable costumes.

‘Speed Skater, 1983’ by Andy Warhol

‘Speed Skater, 1983’ was Warhol’s contribution to ‘The Official Art Portfolio of the XIV Olympic Winter Games’ in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia in 1983. Andy Warhol was one of 17 artists to contribute to the Sarajevo Winter Games project. His bold pop art print was based on a publicity photograph. There is a poster from the 1983 Winter Olympics featuring Warhol’s vibrant speed skater in the V&A collection. It featured in their 2008 exhibition ‘A Century of Olympic Posters’.

Whilst we’re on the subject of winter sports, Andy Warhol also created a number of ice hockey related art works. In 1977, as part of the ‘Athlete Series’, he made a portraits of New York Rangers hockey players Rod Gilbert and Ron Duguay. Star athletes were becoming a favoured sub-set of his infamous celebrity images genre. In 1984, he produced a portrait of ice hockey player Wayne Gretzky, followed by a series of six portraits of the athlete holding his hockey stick. “Typically prescient, Warhol’s new focus on athletes reflected his understanding of the changing nature of celebrity in American popular culture,” Sotheby’s stated in it an auction catalogue, “As he commented in an interview at the time, ‘He’s more than a hockey player, he’s an entertainer.’ ”

Vintage Skiing Posters by Leonetto Cappiello, Puppo and McNair

Lastly don’t miss our great collection of vintage winter sports posters. So they might not be directly related to the Winter Olympics but they do celebrate the beauty and excitement of shooting down a snowy mountain. Grasp the international appeal of this exhilarating Olympic sport with retro depictions such as ‘Superbagneres-Luchon Sports L’Hiver’ by Leonetto Cappiello, ‘Sestriere’ by Puppo, and ‘Ski Italy’ and ‘Ski France’ by McNair.

In the1910s and 1920s, skiing became the ‘in’ thing among the young and the fashionable, who made glamorous resorts such as St. Moritz, Chamonix, and Garmisch famous. It combined fast-pace action with cutting-edge attire, the romance of travel, and stylish après-ski socialising. By the 1930s, skiing was a fashionable and exclusive sport in both Europe and North America. The graphic art of the posters advertising this burgeoning sport have now become collector’s items, reflecting the changing trends in skiing fashion and technique; just compare the sophisticated kit of this year’s Winter Olympians with the heavy woollen jumpers of 1930’s skiers or the decorative red lipstick of glamorous 50’s skaters.

For more great retro skiing posters and imaginative sports artworks follow our Art and Sport Pinterest board.

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