The Olympic Games have long married the frenetic energies of athlete and artist, with prints and posters commissioned every four years to give a visual impression of the celebration and excitement that the event creates, as well as showing how the sporting and cultural words can unite.

This year, online artistic platform Counter Editions has worked with eight contemporary artists to create the official limited prints for Team GB at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Tracey Emin, Anne Hardy, Howard Hodgkin, Sarah Jones, Eddie Peake, Benjamin Senior, David Shrigley, and Sam Taylor-Johnson have all put forward their artistic vision of the sporting extravaganza.

The artists were all tasked with creating unique visualisations that celebrated Rio and Brazil, while using the spirit of Team GB as their main inspiration. Unsurprisingly the vibrant hues associated with the South American country are present across the works, with broad brushstrokes in lemon yellow paired up with fluorescent pinks and blues.

official Rio Olympics art
The range of works to represent Team GB by the likes of Tracey Emin, David Shrigley and Sam Taylor-Johnson.Counter Editions

While visual artist and director Taylor-Johnson opted for a more literal representation of the Olympiad on the rocks, torch in hand, Shrigley added his own signature eccentricity by imagining the Olympic torch as an ice cream cone in his piece 'Life is Fantastic'.

Emin, conversely, has created a muted design with a soft illustration of Rio's Christ the Redeemer statue paired the words 'True love always wins'.

The beauty of the designs is that they are an artistic tangent to the stark imagery of the athlete that will be captured by photographers throughout the games – but they are no less evocative. Speaking on BBC's Today programme, Peake discussed his vibrant piece 'Sweat' by saying his focus was on trying to capture the experience of watching these superhero-like bodies, rather than the bodies themselves.

"None of the imagery [in the series] is what a photographer is going to capture at the games," he said, "and so should it not be, because we're trying to allude to alternative ways of thinking about any given experience".

This is not the first time Counter Editions have worked with the Olympic Games, having teamed up with artists in 2012 to create the official prints for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, as well as commissioning works to commemorate Team GB at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, and the Baku 2015 European Games.

Their work harks back to the initial ideas of Olympic reviver Pierre de Frédy, Baron de Coubertin who campaigned to reintroduce the Games in the late 19th century, also introducing Olympic medals for works of art inspired by sport created in the categories of architecture, literature, music, painting, and sculpture. While these may have been abandoned by 1952, the ongoing relationship between the arts and sport continues on.

Scroll down to see the official prints for Team GB at the Rio 2016 Olympics...


Tracey Emin, 'True Love Always Wins' 2016, (Lithograph Edition of 300)

official Rio Olympics art
Tracey Emin 'True Love Always Wins' 2016, Lithograph Edition of 300 76 x 60cm © Tracey Emin

David Shrigley 'Life Is Fantastic' 2016, (Screenprint Edition of 125)

official Rio Olympics art
David Shrigley 'Life Is Fantastic' 2016, Screenprint Edition of 125 76 x 60cmCounter Editions

Sam Taylor-Johnson Wanderer Above the Sea of Dreams 2016 (Screenprint Edition of 100)

official Rio Olympics art
Sam Taylor-Johnson Wanderer Above the Sea of Dreams 2016, Screenprint Edition of 100 76 x 60cmCounter Editions

Howard Hodgkin 'The Road to Rio' 2016 (Screenprint Edition of 350)

official Rio Olympics art
Howard Hodgkin 'The Road to Rio' 2016, Screenprint Edition of 350 76 x 60cmCounter Editions

Eddie Peake 'Sweat' 2016 (Screenprint Edition of 100)

official Rio Olympics art
Eddie Peake 'Sweat' 2016, Screenprint Edition of 100 76 x 60cmCounter Editions

Benjamin Senior 'Stroke Tempo' 2016 (Lithograph Edition of 100)

official Rio Olympics art
Benjamin Senior 'Stroke Tempo' 2016, Lithograph Edition of 100 76 x 60cmCounter Editions

Sarah Jones 'Cabinet (Spiral)' 2016 (Inkjet photograph Edition of 100)

official Rio Olympics art
Sarah Jones 'Cabinet (Spiral)' 2016, Inkjet photograph Edition of 100 76 x 60cmCounter Editions

Anne Hardy 'Reflection' 2016 (Inkjet photograph Edition of 100)

official Rio Olympics art
Anne Hardy 'Reflection' 2016 Inkjet photograph Edition of 100 76 x 60cmCounter Editions

The official limited edition prints for Team GB at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, available exclusively from countereditions.com

Prices start from £475 and are available to the public from 3pm 2 August.