Part Op art, part indigenous Mesoamerican art, and wonderfully go-go, the "Mexico 68" logo for the Olympics held in Mexico City 40 years ago is considered to this day a masterpiece of graphic design, a completely integrated expression of the '68 Games's ambition that I don't believe any other Olympic logo in comparison has achieved before or since. Take a look.
There is a fascinating exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in D.F. on this logo and on the entire visual language of the 1968 Games. With the Beijing Games wowing everyone this summer, the images of that year's "Olympic Identity Program" are in the air right now in the Mexican capital. I went to see the show on a recent Sunday and it was packed with stylish kids taking photos and checking each other out. It's not just nostalgia or hype. The exhibit is a look at the extraordinary task the organizers had of convincing the world through the power of graphic design that Mexico was capable of hosting the '68 Games -- the first held in Latin America, the first held in a developing country, and first held in the Spanish-speaking world.
Curators mostly ignore the bloody repression against students in D.F. and in major cities at the time, focusing exclusively on the Olympics' central graphic system and how it was integrated into every visual aspect of the '68 Games, from tickets to events, to stamps, postcards, signs, programs, even clothing and tableware. Everything emanated from the Games' logo, "Mexico 68," like the design itself. Credit for the symbol is due to designers Eduardo Terrazas, Pedro Ramirez Vasquez (the architect who also brought you the Televisa logo and the CECUT in Tijuana) and Lance Wyman, who says in this statement that the "Mexico 68" logo helped create an image of "Mexico as an emitting or expanding centre." That's more or less the same impulse that inspired Anni and Josef Albers of the Bauhaus.
A story by Catherine Dunn at Inside Mexico has more details. Chilango magazine's piece comes with a guided tour by curator Tania Ragasol that you can download and play on your iPod when you hit the museum. Finally, in that short audio clip at Inside Mexico, organizer Beatrice Trueblood, marveling at how the '68 Olympics committee managed to pull it off, pays homage where homage is due -- to la Virgen de Guadalupe.
The show at MAM is up until October 27.
* Check out these amazing kicks by Puma commemorating the Black Power salute of Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the '68 Games. Pretty fresh.