Chris Ofili, Viviane Sassen, and Other Artists Have Designed the Posters for Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics, and They’re Pretty Extra

There's a long tradition of artist-designed posters appearing ahead of the Olympic games.

Tomoko Konoike, Wild Things – Hachilympic (2020).

Ever since Stockholm hosted the Olympics in 1912 there’s been a tradition for cities to commission posters ahead of the games. Now, the Organizing Committee for the 2020 Summer and Paralympic Games in Tokyo revealed the 20 official posters for this year’s competitions—and there are some big names among the 19 artists.

With his poster, Turner Prize-winning artist Chris Ofili (who previously contributed a poster to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London) depicts two floating figures merging into one another. Meanwhile, Dutch photographer Viviane Sassen captured through her lens a scene of aerial acrobats. Asao Tokolo, one of numerous Japanese artists represented in the bunch, referred to the official logo for the games, which he also designed, and illustrator Philippe Weisbecker submitted a simple graphic of Tokyo’s new stadium.

On the whole, the posters eschew traditional Olympic tropes and allusions to medals, flames, or the interlocked five-rings are scant. Instead, there are nods to Japanese cultural references like Manga, traditional calligraphy, and Hokusai’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa.

Chris Ofili, <i>The Games People Play</i> (2020).

Chris Ofili, The Games People Play (2020).

The 20 posters—12 are dedicated the Summer Games, eight to the Paralympics—were chosen by a selection committee composed of Japanese editors, designers, architects, and others. They’re on view now through February 16 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo. The Summer Olympics open in Tokyo on July 24, followed by the Paralympic Games on August 25, 2020.

Other notable artists to have designed posters for the Olympics include Rachel Whiteread (London, 2012), Robert Rauschenberg (Los Angeles, 1984), and David Hockney (Moscow, 1972).

See a selection of more 2020 posters below.


Naoki Urasawa, <i>Now it's your turn!</i> (2020).

Naoki Urasawa, Now it’s your turn! (2020).

Taku Satoh, <i>OLYMPIC CLOUD</i> (2020).

Taku Satoh, OLYMPIC CLOUD (2020).

Viviane Sassen, <i>Ludus</i> (2020).

Viviane Sassen, Ludus (2020).

Philippe Weisbecker, <i>Olympic Stadium</i> (2020).

Philippe Weisbecker, Olympic Stadium (2020).

Goo Choki Par, <i>Paralympian</i> (2020).

Goo Choki Par, Paralympian (2020).

Takashi Homma, <i>Tokyo Children</i> (2020).

Takashi Homma, Tokyo Children (2020).

Hirohiko Araki, <i>The Sky above The Great Wave off the Coast of Kanagawa</i> (2020).

Hirohiko Araki, The Sky above The Great Wave off the Coast of Kanagawa (2020).

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