Chris Ofili

For the Unknown Runner


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Chris Ofili born 1968
Lithograph on paper
Image: 760 × 600 mm
Presented by The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games 2012


This work is part of a portfolio of twelve prints by British artists that was commissioned by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games to commemorate the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The contributing artists were Fiona Banner, Michael Craig-Martin, Martin Creed, Tracey Emin, Anthea Hamilton, Howard Hodgkin, Gary Hume, Sarah Morris, Chris Ofili, Bridget Riley, Bob and Roberta Smith and Rachel Whiteread. Creed, Hamilton, Hodgkin, Ofili, Riley and Whiteread were invited to create images for the Olympic Games while Banner, Craig-Martin, Emin, Hume, Morris and Smith created images for the Paralympic Games. The portfolio was produced in an edition of 150.

Chris Ofili creates paintings inspired by personal experience, race, folklore, biblical narrative and, for the last few years, the island of Trinidad where he now lives. In For the Unknown Runner a figure, somewhere between super-athlete and mythical being, sprints past a watching crowd. The figure is framed by a vase motif - a reference to the birth of the Olympic Games in Ancient Greece, which provided an arena for artistic and cultural expression as well as sporting excellence. For the Unknown Runner is a dedication to both Olympic history and the future stars of the London 2012 Games. The work’s title is written to the left and right of the image and the print is inscribed with the artist’s name and date below the image.

Further reading
Julia Beaumont-Jones, A Century of Prints in Britain, London 2017, pp.33–4, reproduced p.226.

Leyla Fakhr
November 2011

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