Poster girl for the Olympics

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The Independent Online

Tracey Emin, pictured among vintage posters advertising previous Olympic Games at Tate Britain in London, is one of 12 artists who have been commissioned to design posters for the forthcoming London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics

Other artist picked include Martin Creed and Bridget Riley, Cultural Olympiad director Ruth Mackenzie announced today.

They beat more than 100 art rivals. Each will create an image for either the London 2012 Olympics or Paralympic event.

They will have free reign to produce a poster in their style, guided only by the "simple brief" that they should think about London and either the Olympics or Paralympics.

Mackenzie announced the "very distinguished group" of 2012 artists to coincide with the one-year countdown to the start of the London 2012 Cultural Festival - the 12-week finale to the Cultural Olympiad.

They include:

:: Fiona Banner - She studied for a BA in Fine Art and was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2002.

:: Michael Craig-Martin - a contemporary conceptual artist and painter.

:: Martin Creed - 2001 Turner prize winner with a work that involved a gallery's lights being switched on and off. Creed's Work No 850 involved a single athlete running at top speed through the Duveen galleries at Tate Britain - every 30 seconds, all day, every day.

:: Tracey Emin - a high-profile member of the YBAs. Critics say her work can both shock and comfort.

:: Anthea Hamilton - she is a Leeds Metropolitan University graduate who exhibits regularly in London and Leeds.

:: Howard Hodgkin - contemporary painter who is the only one of the dozen who has already designed an Olympic poster. He created the poster for the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo.

:: Gary Hume - he was on the 1996 Turner prize shortlist and represented Britain at the 48th Venice Biennale in 1999.

:: Sarah Morris - a painter and filmmaker who has always been interested in exploring means of communication.

:: Chris Ofili - the 1998 Turner Prize winner who is known for his intensely coloured and intricately ornamented paintings.

:: Bridget Riley - her vibrantly-coloured optical paintings have made her one of Britain's best-known artists since the mid-1960s.

:: Bob and Roberta Smith - a conceptual artist who hopes people will question high art. His work has included brightly coloured slogans painted on reclaimed timber or board.

:: Rachel Whiteread - the 1993 Turner Prize winner is one of Britain's leading contemporary sculptors.

They are now following in an Olympic tradition dating back to 1912 which has seen artists such as David Hockney, Andy Warhol and RB Kitaj commissioned to create an Olympic or Paralympic poster.

The 2012 artists will be paid a fee for the work but Mackenzie would not reveal the amount, saying only "it is do it for love and honour but not only love and honour".

London 2012 will use the poster images to spearhead a high-profile campaign to promote the Games.

Mackenzie described them as "wonderful wonderful artists" adding that she has no concerns about what might end up on the posters - but noted that a lot of trust will go in to the process of creating the posters.

There are no strict limits on what they should create.

She said: "There is only one way to get great art and that is to ask great artists to do what they do best - that is the only limit.

"This is the United Kingdom. We believe in artistic freedom. We believe in the integrity of the artist.

"We believe in inspiring young people and artists to produce their greatest work.

"World class excellence - that was our criteria. I have never been involved in selecting a team for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, but I imagine that you spread your risk to some degree.

"You are looking for a wide range of excellences and looking for the greatest certainty for gold medallists."

Cultural Olympiad chairman Tony Hall said: "Artists also know their own contexts. They know what they can do.

"They are phenomenally acute and phenomenally bright - you trust them.

"You talk them through what they want to do and I am sure those conversations will go on and on.

"I am very confident we will get some sensational pieces of work that people will want to look at and hang on their walls and pass them on through generations."

The shortlist was selected by a committee that was chaired by Tate director Nicholas Serota, Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 executives plus officials from Art on the Underground, Tate and Counter Editions.

The posters will also be shown in a free exhibition at Tate Britain as part of the London 2012 Festival.

The posters and limited edition prints will go on sale this autumn.