ArtLyst has composed a guide to the very best art exhibitions and events designed as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad. All are open to the public before, during or after the games. Check times and location to make sure that non-ticket holders have access. As this is a time of heightened security you may be required to have your bag searched and to walk through a metal detector.
Richard Long has created the Road Race Waterline, a 100m-long artwork, painted directly onto the surface of the famous Zig Zag road in the Box Hill Reserve, Surrey. The work follows on from the traditional road graffiti created by fans during the Tour de France where well-wishers often leave chalk messages on the road for specific teams and cyclists. Painted at one of the best vantage points for spectators of the Olympics road races, the artwork is made from bright white road paint and is a lasting legacy of the London 2012 Games (from 28 July 2012).
Yoko Ono’s IMAGINE PEACE, a worldwide initiative of anti-violence, continues at live sites around the country (Various cities, 21 June – 9 September 2012). This ongoing project uses the Internet, posters, thoughts, badges and a multitude of other media to communicate its message of peace to the global community. Yoko Ono stated: “Let us come together to realize a peaceful world”. A major exhibition of the artist’s work is also on show at the Serpentine Gallery as part of the London 2012 Festival (FREE, Serpentine Gallery, 19 June – 9 September 2012).
Art Drive! BMW Art Car Collection 1975-2010 sees the BMW collection of Art Cars on show for the first time in the UK at a car park in Shoreditch for free. The collection, initiated over 35 years ago, features BMW cars transformed by some of the world’s leading artists including: David Hockney, Jenny Holzer, Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol. The exhibition of cars by 16 international artists is on view at the NCP Car Park on Great Eastern Street (FREE, 21 July – 4 August 2012, 12 noon – 9PM).
Heatherwick Studio: Designing the Extraordinary – the first major solo exhibition of the work of Heatherwick Studio, one of the most inventive and experimental British design studios practising today. On 29 July, a smaller model of Thomas Heatherwick’s design for the Olympic Cauldron was added to the exhibition. The Olympic Cauldron was unveiled to the public for the first time at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics – during which it received the Olympic Flame – and this is the first chance for the public to see the design up close. Alongside this, there is a recorded interview with Danny Boyle, Thomas Heatherwick and exhibition curator Abraham Thomas, discussing the work. (Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 31 May – 30 September 2012)
The World in London, a major public art project initiated by The Photographers’ Gallery brings together 204 specially commissioned photographic portraits of 204 Londoners, each originating from one of the nations competing at the Games. Leading national and international artists including Stephen Shore, Martin Parr, Mary McCartney and Rankin, alongside emerging names, have been commissioned by The Photographers’ Gallery to photograph the sitters over the last two years. The 204 portraits will be exhibited for free viewing as large-scale posters in Victoria Park in East London (FREE, 27 July – 12 August 2012), and Park House in Oxford Street, London (FREE, 27 July – 30 August 2012)
Sacrilege is Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller’s life-size inflatable replica of Stonehenge, an interactive free outdoor installation and fully operational bouncy castle for adults and children alike. Locations this week include Ravenscourt Park, London, (31 July 2012); Hampstead Heath, London, (1 August 2012); Clapham Common, London, (2 Aug); Burgess Park, London, (4 August 2012); Barra Hall Park, London, (5 August 2012)
Tania Bruguera: Immigrant Movement International – As part of The Tanks, Cuban artist Tania Bruguera brings her self-initiated socio-political movement to London’s Tate Modern. Through a series of installations, talks and free public events, the exhibition aims to ask and answer questions about the nature, conditions and representation of immigrants in modern society. An exponent of activism as art, Bruguera’s work is multifaceted, spanning all different media, and unique in that it actively seeks to be a part of the debate it portrays. (FREE, Tate Modern, 30 July – 15 August 2012)
Secrets: Hidden London – offers the opportunity to discover some of London’s amazing hidden gems as leading artists and cultural institutions transform the city’s lesser-known landscapes including canals, lidos and parkland, with dance, opera and specially created installations. Final performance this week of The Owl and The Pussycat, a water-bound operatic spectacle featuring the words of ex-Monty Python Terry Jones and a specially commissioned score from Oscar-winning composer Anne Dudley (FREE, Mile End Park, London, 31 July 2012, 6PM)
Art in the Park – a series of inspiring artworks have been installed in and around the Olympic Park, commissioned by the Olympic Delivery Authority. Artworks include: Fast, Faster, Fastest, Jason Bruges Studio’s exciting new interactive light project installed on one of the Stadium bridges; Info Spectrum, internationally renowned artist Carsten Nicolai’s colourful representation of five Olympic Rings as a dramatic, oscillating sound wave, using the colour spectrum of a sunset; and RUN, internationally-renowned artist Monica Bonvicini’s flagship artwork for the Copper Box. Also in the Olympic Park is Orbit, by acclaimed British artist Anish Kapoor, which was realised with the support of ArcelorMittal and the Mayor of London. Standing at 115 metres, Orbit is the tallest art structure in Britain, offering stunning views over the Olympic Stadium, Olympic Park and the whole of London. (27 July – 9 September 2012, Access to Olympic Park ticketholders and accredited media only).
BT Road to 2012, a three-year project and the National Portrait Gallery’s largest commission, reaches its conclusion with the opening of the final exhibition in the cycle, BT Road to 2012: Aiming High. Forty new portraits of some of the key players in London 2012, including Lord Sebastian Coe,
Mark Cavendish, Fran Halsall and Danny Boyle, by photographers Anderson & Low, Jillian Edelstein and Nadav Kander, are on show (FREE, National Portrait Gallery, 19 July – 23 September 2012).
London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Posters have been created by twelve leading contemporary artists, with screen prints and lithographs of the works displayed free at Tate Britain. The official posters for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games are by 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 (FREE, Tate Britain, 21 June – 23 September 2012).
London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic medals exhibition at the British Museum tells the story of the production of the medals for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, from the mining of the metal by Rio Tinto through the creation of the designs and production by the Royal Mint. The free display includes objects from the 19th-century Shropshire games alongside medals from the 1908 and 1948 Olympic Games held in London, and the 1960 and 1984 Paralympic Games (FREE, British Museum, 8 February – 9 September 2012).
Art in the Park (From 27 Jul 2012), Olympic Park, London
· Art Drive! The BMW Art Car Collection (21 Jul – 4 Aug 2012), NCP Great Eastern Street Car Park, London
· Tino Sehgal – The Turbine Hall Commission (24 Jul – 28 Oct 2012), Tate Modern, London
· The World in London (27 Jul – 28 Oct 2012) Tate Modern, London
· BT Road to 2012 (19 Jul – 23 Sep 2012), National Portrait Gallery, London
· Casa Brasil (21 Jul – 8 Sep 2012), Somerset House, London
· Damien Hirst (4 Apr – 9 Sep 2012), Tate Modern, London
· Design Stories – The Architecture behind 2012 (25 Jun – 25 Sep 2012), Royal Institute of British Architects, London
· Designing the Extraordinary – Heatherwick Studio (31 May – 30 Sep 2012), Victoria and Albert Museum, London
· International Architecture and Design Showcase (23 June – 23 Sept 2012) Embassies and Cultural Institution, London
· Frieze Projects East (18 Jul – 31 Aug 2012), multiple venues, London
· Government Art Collection at the Whitechapel Gallery (19 Jun – 9 Sep 2012), Whitechapel Gallery, London
· London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Posters (21 Jun – 23 Sep 2012), Tate Britain, London
· Metamorphosis – Titian 2012 (11 Jul – 23 Sep 2012), National Gallery, London
· Next Generations – BP Portrait Awards (21 Jun – 23 Sep 2012), National Portrait Gallery, London
· Rio Occupation London (8 Jul – 4 Aug 2012), multiple venues, London
· Official London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Poster Display (21 Jun – 21 Sep 2012), Tate Britain, London
· Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2012 – Ai Weiwei & Herzog and de Meuron (1 Jun – 14 Oct 2012), Serpentine Gallery, London
· The English Flower Garden – Paul Cummins (4 Jun – 26 Aug 2012), Cromwell Green, House of Parliament, London
· To The Light – Yoko Ono (19 Jun – 9 Sep 2012), Serpentine Gallery, London
· Whitechapel Gallery Commission – Rachel Whiteread (From 14 June 2012), Whitechapel Gallery, London
· Yinka Shonibare (From 21 June 2012), Royal Opera House, London
Photo: Richard Long River of Paint along the road-cycling track in Surrey