Paris 2024 Unveils Surprisingly Whimsical Posters for the Olympic and Paralympic Games

The intricate, hand-drawn works are in stark contrast to the traditional minimalist designs of the official Olympic poster art.

Two posters fit together to show detailed illustration of Paris
Posters for the upcoming Olympic Games (left) and Paralympic Games (right). Courtesy Paris 2024 Organizing Committee

A surfing wave in Tahiti, a pair of breakdancers and some 40,000 hand-drawn figures—these are just some of what’s depicted in the official posters for the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games, as unveiled today (March 4) by the Paris 2024 organizing committee.

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Created by French illustrator Ugo Gattoni, the posters make up two halves of a whimsical Parisian fresco packed with athletic and national motifs. With Gattoni’s signature fine lines and intricate detail, it’s no surprise that the entire hand-drawn process took around 2,000 hours to complete.

“For the first time at the Summer Games, the Iconic Posters take the form of a diptych, with the same artistic direction,” said Tony Estanguet, the organizing committee president, in a statement. “They are two independent posters telling the story of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, which, when placed side by side, tell the whole story of Paris 2024.”

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Symbols of the games themselves can be found through the poster’s inclusion of the Olympic Rings and a racing yacht that is set to carry the Olympic flame, which are shown alongside iconic French landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Paris Metro and Seine River. More than 40 sports from the Olympics and Paralympics Games are also included in the artwork, including new additions like breakdancing, sport climbing, skateboarding and surfing—the latter of which will take place at the Teahupo’o wave in French Polynesia, found in the background of the poster. Gattoni notably drew the same number of male and female figures, a reference to the fact that the Paris 2024 Games will be the first gender-balanced edition with 50 percent female athletes.

“For me, this design has to be timeless,” said Gattoni, whose posters will be displayed at the Musée d’Orsay from March 5 to March 10, in a statement. “Its originality lies in its surreal and utopian aspect, both in its composition and in the thousands of details that feature in it,” he said. The artist counts high-profile brands like Hermès and Cartier among his regular clients. Luxury companies are set to have a prominent presence in the upcoming games. LVMH (LVMHF) is one of the largest sponsors, and winning athletes will receive medals designed by jeweler Chaumet. 

Woman holds up large poster
Rachel Whiteread poses with her specially commissioned poster during the unveiling of the Official Olympic and Paralympic posters for London 2012 Olympic Games. Paul Gilham/Getty Images

The art of Olympic posters through history

Olympic and Paralympic posters are an iconic part of the games, according to Estanguet. They “have gradually become artistic works in their own right, providing a foretaste of each edition of the Games,” he added. This wasn’t always the case—during the first half of the 20th century, official Olympic posters were produced primarily as a form of advertising and to provide practical information about the event, especially before the games began using the radio in 1928 and television broadcasts in 1936.

Since the 1950s, however, the official posters have become symbols of the identity and values of the individual games, often featuring the work of renowned artists. The 1984 Los Angeles Games, for example, saw Robert Rauschenberg design an official poster depicting three interlocked stars, while Rachel Whiteread was tapped to create a poster filled with colorful circles for the 2012 London Games.

In addition to producing official posters, the Olympic and Paralympic Games often commission artists to create additional works interpreting specific Olympic ideals or sports. This practice led to David Hockney’s famed The Diver, the striking image used to promote the sport at the 1972 Munich Games. And don’t forget Speed Skater, the motion-filled screenprint created by Andy Warhol for the 1984 Games in Sarajevo. For the upcoming Paris 2024 Games, additional posters will be produced by artists Adam Janes, Clotilde Jiménez, Gilles Elie, Elsa and Johanna, Pierre Seinturier, Fanny Michaëlis and Stéphanie Lacombe.

Paris 2024 Unveils Surprisingly Whimsical Posters for the Olympic and Paralympic Games