Jacket Image

Enlarge Image

250 × 190 mm
176 pages
116 illustrations, 50 in colour
15 Apr 2012

Olympic Visions Images of the Games through History Mike O'Mahony

Olympic Visions is the first-ever book to cover in depth all kinds of images and objects relating to the greatest sports show on earth. Every Olympic festival has its own exciting and memorable moments, many familiar to us through television images or the iconic photographs that celebrate them. But each Games also generates a fascinating array of works, such as documentary photographs, posters and coins, medals and sculptures, that have been made to advertise, celebrate or commemorate the Games. Poster artists and filmmakers, architects and designers, painters, sculptors, and others contribute to the unique global sporting event that takes place every four years.

This book contains a fascinating array of visual material that, over time, has enlarged, even transformed, mass understanding of the ways in which the modern Games have been evolving. The Games are also both a manifestation of mass culture, and a powerful manipulator of the consciousness of spectators around the world. In addition, the Games have responded – sometimes in highly controversial ways – to constantly changing social and political circumstances. Each Olympiad reflects larger issues, including the struggle for gender and racial equality, the spectre of international terrorism, the impact of politics (from National Socialism to the Cold War), and controversies ranging from cheating and drug-taking, to corporate advertising. With its wealth of images, ranging from statues and torches to medals and mascots, and from celebrity competitors to hyper-assertive stadia designs, Olympic Visions is a must read for everyone who wishes to learn about the past and present of the spectacle.

‘[a] fine and entertaining study . . . Olympic Visions can be read as thoughtful reflections on a common theme or happily browsed while waiting for the television commentators to announce the results of the high jump.’ – RA Magazine

Olympic Visions is a handsome, beautifully-illustrated, well-written book . . . all readers, whether or not they are receptive to the study of images, will learn a great deal from this volume . . . This is a fine book that will be enjoyed by anyone interested in the history of the Olympic Games, and especially by those with an interest in visual culture.’ – Canadian Journal of History

‘A very ambitious pursuit, O’Mahony’s Olympic Visions manages to capture not only the readers’ undivided attention but also over a century’s worth of Olympic visual and creative media history – all in eight concise and well-written chapters that span less than 200 pages . . . O’Mahony succeeds in making a complex story a little easier to understand, and importantly more relatable, for a wider audience. With the power to say so much more than words ever could, the reader of Olympic Visions will learn that the images and visual representations of the Olympic games hold significant promise for advancing our understanding of the Olympic games and why they matter as a cultural phenomenon.’ – Journal of Sport History

‘political considerations aside, this lovely book brings more smiles than frowns to this summer’s main event.’ – Diplomat magazine

‘a fascinating history that ranges far and wide over time and place and takes into account the precursors for both the modern Olympiad and its publicity.’ – Journal of Design History

Show all

Mike O'Mahony is Senior Lecturer in the History of Art Department at the University of Bristol. He is the author of Sport in the USSR: Physical Culture - Visual Culture (2006) and Sergei Eisenstein (2008), both published by Reaktion Books.