Otmar Alt, “Olympische Spiele München,” 1972

Last week, ART 3683: History of Twentieth Century Art student Rachel Herzig introduced us to Otmar Alt’s screenprint poster, Olympische Spiele München. This week, her fellow student Elizabeth Hahn goes into some more depth, exploring the background and context of Alt’s poster.

Otmar Alt’s work is appealing because he uses imagination and creativity to create visually interesting compositions. In Olympische Spiele München, Alt’s distinct style is recognizable in his use of geometric patterns and bright colors. There are mythical creatures rendered in an abstract, cartoonish style. The title translates to “Olympic Games Munich,” but the word “spiele” can also be translated as “play,” a meaning reflected in Alt’s imaginative composition.

Otmar Alt, “Olympische Spiele München,” 1972. Screenprint, Gardiner Permanent Art Collection, gift of Nancy Wilkinson, 98-0029.

Otmar Alt, “Olympische Spiele München,” 1972. Screenprint, Gardiner Permanent Art Collection, gift of Nancy Wilkinson, 98-0029.

This poster was created in 1972, when the summer Olympics were held in Munich, Germany. These Olympic Games were a big event with particular meaning for Germany. The last time Germany held the Olympics was in Berlin during the Nazi regime. Germany was eager, in 1972, to show the world a changed, democratic nation. Their motto for the Games was “The Happy Games,” and the symbol they chose was a bright, shining sun.

In this print, there is a bright yellow sun shining in the middle of the composition. This represents the symbol of the Olympic Games. The bright colors used in the print also incorporate the theme of the Olympics. Bright colors express happiness and liveliness. The abstract creatures might represent that different countries coming together for the Olympics. Alt’s use of abstraction to reflect and comment on his historical context is a typically modernist artistic strategy. His style mimics Germany’s efforts to show the world their modern democratic beliefs.

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About osucurator

Louise Siddons is Associate Professor of Art History at Oklahoma State University and founding curator of the Oklahoma State University Museum of Art. She maintains this blog as a record of her students' work with the Museum's permanent collection as well as more generally with topics related to museum studies.
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