African American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos protesting racial segregation in the United States in 1968. Hitler watching the Berlin Olympics in 1936. Michael Phelps’ photo finish in the 100-meter butterfly to win his seventh of a record eight medals in 2008. Since its creation in 1896, the Olympic Games have produced iconic images such as these, from the second the Olympic flame is lit at the lavish opening ceremony to the moment that same flame is extinguished at its close. As billions across the globe watch this showcase of fitness, strength, and skill, few understand how the pictorial legacy of the Games continues to shape the way the events are viewed today.
Olympic Visions explores how painters and sculptors, photographers and filmmakers, and architects and designers have helped to affect the consciousness of spectators around the world. Mike O’Mahony describes and analyzes images such as documentary photographs and posters made of the Olympics throughout history. He also looks at the many special objects, including coins, medals, and sculptures, that have been made to commemorate the games. His detailed insights into the world of Olympic artifacts, combined with the beautiful illustrations included here, present a crucial addition to our understanding of the games and the way we watch them. With the next Olympic Games beginning in London in July, Olympic Visions will be an essential companion to viewers tuning in to cheer on their national teams to triumph and glory.