This work by American pop artist Tom Wesselmann (1931- 2004) is one of a series of posters by famous artists selected by the 1972 Munich Olympic Committee to design posters for an advertising campaign that would unite art and sports. The artists could choose their own themes as long as they did justice to the ideals of the Olympics.
Wesselman chose to draw one very large (now famous) foot. We assume it is the foot of a female because of the nail polish on the toes. This colossal-sized foot, with its pink toenails and pink-hued skin tones, grabs the viewer’s attention, as it takes up the entire foreground and is in vivid contrast to the green field behind it.
During the 1970s and 1980s, Wesselman, known best for his art depicting the female nude, often portrayed close-up views, drawn in an over-sized scale, of segments of the female body. This Olympic poster reflects his art of this period.
The message here is that this woman’s foot is strong and powerful and interesting. And, in viewing this foot, one can’t help but imagine that, if this is the foot, then the body connected to it must be a strong, powerful and interesting body, like that of an Olympic athlete. This is an extremely rare poster with only 3,000 printed.
Thomas K. Wesselmann (1931-2004) was closely associated with the American Pop Art movement but objected to being identified as such, saying that his art was driven by aesthetics and not by cultural commentary. He lived and worked in New York City during most of his career. Beginning in the 1960s with his Great American Nude series, Wesselmann drew from images in popular American culture and the media and produced large-scale paintings in bold colors. While known best for his nudes, he also is known for other works, including still lifes and collages combining art with pop culture as reflected in images in magazine advertisements. His works have remained popular after his death and are represented in the collections of many museums and galleries.