Artist Marjane Satrapi Unveils a Massive Tapestry Honoring Olympic Athletes

The work, commissioned by the gaming body, was unveiled in Paris.

Marjane Satrapi poses with her Olympic triptych tapestry created for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Photo: Bertrand Guay / AFP via Getty Images.

A nine-meter-tall Olympic-themed tapestry by artist and author Marjane Satrapi was unveiled in Paris on Tuesday, March 12, ahead of the Olympic Games which commence on July 26.

Split into three panels, the wool tapestry depicts a javelin thrower, a skateboarder, a breakdancer, and two athletes leaping towards each other underneath the arch of Paris’s Eiffel Tower. Breakdancing and skateboarding are two of the most recent additions to the modern Olympic Games: skateboarding debuted at the 2020 Olympics (held 2021) in Tokyo, and breakdancing will make its first appearance this year in Paris. The two central figures represent the parity between men and women in competitive sports.

Satrapi was born in Rasht, Iran, in 1969 and grew up in Tehran during the Iranian Revolution. She settled in Europe in her 20s, and currently lives in Paris. An outspoken supporter of women’s rights, she told Publishers Weekly in 2023: “If you have a voice, if you are somebody who people will actually listen to, then you have to [raise awareness]. But you can’t talk too much, either. Too many words equals zero. I calculate when I can be efficient.”

Satrapi catapulted to fame with her graphic novel Persepolis (2000). The autobiographical coming-of-age story was later adapted for film in 2008, earning Satrapi an Academy Award nomination. “I’m finally considered French!” she told press after being entrusted with the tapestry project.

Olympic triptych tapestry created for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games by Marjane Satrapi. Photo: Bertrand Guay / AFP via Getty Images.

According to Satrapi, she received the Olympic commission over the phone. “When I got the call, I thought it was a hoax, but it wasn’t. I was very delighted, very honored, very happy, but also very stressed,” she said.

The tapestry took three years to create in collaboration with artisans attached to France’s Mobilier National. The triptych was woven by the team at the Gobelins Manufactory, a historic tapestry factory established in the 17th century which worked for the French monarchy from the rule of Louis XIV. The Mobilier National is the administrator for the Gobelins and Beauvais Manufactories.

The 132-pound tapestry was unveiled at the Mobilier National and will be exhibited to the public at the Hotel de la Marine from June 21. The installation will travel to Nice (which will host the Winter Olympics in 2030) after the Paralympic Games conclude in Paris in September. The first part of the triptych was unveiled at the Manufacture de Beauvais last March, 500 days before the start of the Paris Games.

Other cultural events designed to coincide with the Games include the exhibition “Olympism: Modern Invention, Ancient Legacy” at the Louvre. The museum has come under scrutiny for an entry fee hike ahead of the influx of tourists expected to visit the French capital for the Olympics.

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