Artists Team Up to Create World Cup ‘Posters’

BY Jason Kane  June 2, 2010 at 3:07 PM EDT

Detail of 'Bicycle Kick' by William Kentridge; courtesy of David Krut Publishing
Detail of ‘Bicycle Kick’ by William Kentridge; courtesy of David Krut Publishing

The fourth in a series of stories about the upcoming World Cup in South Africa, which begins June 11. Previously, Art Beat looked a project called 2010 Fine Art; the Diski, a dance created just for the World Cup; and Soccer Cinema, a traveling theater that has been screening films all over South Africa.

2010 FIFA World CupThe sales pitch doesn’t require many words: 2010 FIFA World Cup: South Africa. But capturing the frenzy, anticipation and pride behind the first World Cup in Africa required the work of contemporary artists, inspiration from six continents and 17 posters.

FIFA, the governing body of international soccer, sanctioned German art marketing agency Brands United to pull together another series of posters for the sport’s biggest event after the 2006 edition’s success.

Renate Bauer, the company’s managing director, proposed the idea during the build-up to the 2006 World Cup in Germany. She had “quite a hard time pushing it through,” she said.

FIFA laughed at me and told me, ‘What has this to do with each other — art and football? We don’t understand.’ But it worked out well and it was a very successful project,” Bauer said. “And once it was over they asked me to do this again, and here we go.”

This time around, Bauer asked hundreds of painters, photographers and digital artists with a “special connection to Africa” to produce images for the series known as the Official Art Poster Edition.

Listen to an interview with Bauer:

Only 17 made the final cut. Eight of the artists come from South Africa, while the remaining nine represent nations from all six continents that will participate in the World Cup.

CLICK HERETogether, they capture a nation and a continent on the brink of a milestone — from the roar of the stadiums to the quiet energy of an old man kicking a soccer ball down the street.

Artist Peter Eastman tried to convey the buzz he felt at night walking onto his balcony in Cape Town and watching Green Point Stadium rising near the Atlantic Ocean.

“Seeing it being built over there kind of changed the skyline and gives you the feeling of this big event that’s coming,” Eastman said of his digital piece, “Stadium.”

Distributed by South African-based David Krut Publishing, the digital pieces are mostly being sold online or through the company’s bookstores in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Only 2,010 digital copies are made of each, and the complete set costs about $4,000.

An exhibition of the posters will be held at Cape Town’s tourist shopping venue, the Victoria & Albert Waterfront, during the tournament. A small number will also be available for viewing at the company’s space in New York.

While Bauer says the term “poster” makes the artwork sound flimsy, David Krut, owner of the publishing company, doesn’t disagree with the FIFA-applied designation.

“These posters are definitely selling the World Cup, but in South Africa I think they’re ‘selling’ something different: a sense of unity. South Africa often sort of fragments, but everyone can get behind this,” Krut said. “I think the other big thing they’re promoting is that it’s Africa’s time, that sense of ‘here they are doing this event that nobody thought they would be able to do.’”

Part of the revenues from the project will go toward 20 Centers for 2010, a FIFA campaign that hopes to raise $10 million for 20 health, education and sports centers throughout the African continent.

To learn more about the posters, visit David Krut Publishing.