Jeux Olympiques, Stockholm 1912

stockholm olympics 1912 poster Olle Hjortsberg

Far from being recent, the notion of the Olympics as a PR opportunity for the host nation dates back to 1912, when Stockholm provided the first purpose-built stadium, the first concerted Olympic advertising campaign and the first official poster, all with the aim of promoting Sweden as a dynamic modern nation.

At first sight Olle Hjortsberg’s design, which sets dynamic male nudity against vigorous art nouveau pattern-making, seems to belong to a culture of naive, essentially platonic homoeroticism that flourished in the early 20th century and vanished with the First World War. Yet even then the image wasn’t perceived as entirely innocent. Those whirling orange streamers were added to shield the central figure’s modesty, and the poster was barred from many public places.

Source: Daily Telegraph

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