With London 2012 dominating the public consciousness, a new exhibition curated in the UK will look back to the 1968 Olympics and its radical graphical identity created by legendary American graphic designer Lance Wyman.
Mexico 68 was the first Olympics to be hosted by a developing country and took place against a backdrop of national political upheaval and student protest. The event itself was marked by the famous Black Power salute performed by American gold and bronze medallists Tommie Smith and John Carlos. Lance’s home country was similarly wracked by protests against the Vietnam War and the assassination of Dr Martin Luther King.
Mexico 68 logo sculpture
This radical atmosphere resonated through Lance’s work, which combined traditional forms from Mexican culture and 1960s Op-art kinetic typography to create a geometric graphic stamp, rather than a traditional image. ‘You Are Here’ will present a selection of images detailing his work on the logotype, official poster, bespoke typeface and signage, including photographs of the work in place during the games and sketchbooks showing the initial inspiration of the design.
Lance’s work on Mexico 68 made his name and the exhibition will show the variety of iconic designs he went on to produce, including the first ever commemorative stamp issued by a government (by Mexico for Dr Martin Luther King) and the Washington Metro map which he created in 1976 and revised in 2011. More recent work includes a campaign poster for Obama ’08 and the renowned signage system for the US National Zoo in the Smithsonian Institute.
Mexico 68 Olympics logo
The US National Zoo signage and the Washington Metro map are examples of ‘wayfinding’, a system which brings together signage, graphic communication and spatial logic to assist a multilingual audience in finding ways around unfamiliar and complex environments. Lance is a key proponent of wayfinding and has taught corporate and wayfinding design at Parsons School of Design in New York.
‘You Are Here’ is curated by Finola Gaynor. The exhibition opens in The Gallery at Norwich University of the Arts on Tuesday 1 May and admission for the public is free. The show is open from 12pm–5pm Tuesdays–Saturdays until 9 June.
Mexico 68 pole vault field marker
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