Tradition upheld as London 2012 posters from dozen top British artists unveiled

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Two birds gently kissing, a swirling blue mass and a nude study of a Paralympic cyclist including words such as “steel buttocks” and “absurdly muscly” are among the 12 official poster images for the London 2012 Games.

The images, designed by 12 top British artists, including four Turner Prize winners and five who have represented the UK at the Venice Biennale, are now part of a tradition dating back to 1912. David Hockney, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein have created posters for previous Games.

A set of the images has been given to the Queen for the Royal Collection and to other important British art collections.

They will be displayed in 10 Downing Street in 2012 as part of the Government art collection and the British Council is planning to exhibit the images in 2012 as part of UK Now, the largest festival of British arts yet to be shown in China.

Tracey Emin, Martin Creed, Bridget Riley, Fiona Banner, Michael Craig-Martin, Anthea Hamilton, Howard Hodgkin, Gary Hume, Sarah Morris, Chris Ofili, Patrick Brill and Rachel Whiteread make up the dozen artists who designed an image.

Their brief was to celebrate the Games coming to London and to look at the Olympic and Paralympic values.

Each created an image for either the Olympics or Paralympics which will go on sale to the public as £7 posters and limited edition prints.

Emin sees her London 2012 sketch of two small birds as a “love letter” or dedication to the Paralympic Games and its athletes. They sit on a branch beneath the words “You inspire me with Your determination And I love you.”

Words including “piercing rod of muscle, steel buttock, rhythmic rigidity of his form, absurdly muscly and white a***” appear in the nude study of a Paralympic cyclist with a carbon prosthetic by Banner.

The swirling blue mass flooding across another poster, entitled Swimming, is the work of contemporary painter Hodgkin, the only one of the artists who has already designed an Olympic poster. He created it for the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympics.