In Paris, art is all around — from the Louvre’s Mona Lisa to the Eiffel Tower’s twinkling lights. Art is also present at the French Open, where each year since 1980, the grounds at Roland Garros have displayed bold, imaginative tournament posters designed by renowned artists. These posters are much more than print advertising — each embodies the spirit of the French Open, reflecting tennis as art and its athletes as artists. After all, What is Rafael Nadal if not a master of his craft brushing across a canvas of red clay? In preparation for the 2016 tournament, enjoy 36 years of French Open poster art.
French painter Marc Desgrandchamps created this year’s poster, which features the only shot that must happen in every point of a match: the serve.
2016: Marc Desgrandchamps
French painter Marc Desgrandchamps comments on his creation: “I created this poster based on photos of players over the past 60 years because it seems to me that tennis was perhaps more artistic. I found a tone and a color that interested me. It really has given the idea of restoring the attitude of the whole body in the shadow. It is she who focuses all the energy, while the legs are in the released position, relaxation.”
1980: Valerio Adami
Italian painter Valerio Adami was influenced by Pop Art, and his works echo French Cloisonnism in their flat forms separated by black contours.
1981: Eduardo Arroyo
Known as one of the most influential Pop Art painters alive, Arroyo captures the essence of tennis during the 1980’s in this poster reminiscent of Bjorn Borg’s hair.
1982: Jean-Michel Folon
An architectural draftsman by training, Folon portrays the beauty of tennis court design in this graphic work.
1983: Vladimir Veličković
Serbian painter Vladimir Veličković defines tennis player as Herculean athlete in this composition full of movement and energy.
1984: Gilles Aillaud
Aillaud was the first to depict the crowds at Roland Garros, who that year watched Ivan Lendl defeat John McEnroe in a close five-set match for the title.
A Paris native, Monory is known for his use of monochrome, particularly the color blue. He is also one of the fathers of the Narrative Figuration movement, classified as a reaction to abstraction and pendant to Pop Art that explored modern society.
1986: Jiří Kolář
Czech poet and artist Jiří Kolář was known for creating collages from scraps of paper and magazine clippings.
1987: Gérard Titus-Carmel
After training at a furniture and decoration school in Paris, Gérard Titus-Carmel discovered his love for printmaking.
1988: Pierre Alechinsky
After moving to Japan to study calligraphy, Belgian painter Pierre Alechinsky created prints using black ink. In 1995, one of his designs was used on a Belgian national stamp.
Italian Nicola de Maria was a member of the art movement Transavantgarde, which means “beyond the avant garde.” The movement was focused on reintroducing emotion, particularly joy, back into artwork through figurative painting and symbolism.
1990: Claude Garache
Frenchmen Claude Garache, whose main subject was the female nude, depicted a woman playing tennis on the 1990 French Open poster.
1991: Joan Miró
Arguably the most famous artist commissioned to design a French Open poster, Miró is one of the most prominent influences on the development of Surrealism and 20th-century art.
1992: Jan Voss
Jan Voss is a multimedia artist whose works were influenced by the idea of creating order amid chaos. In his compositions, he often superimposes drawings and watercolors of everyday objects, as shown in this 1992 poster that depicts tennis ball, racket and net.
1993: Jean le Gac
Beginning in 1980, Jean le Gac began to play with traditional medium of charcoal and pastel, drawing characters inspired by literary works. Here, his fictional tennis player, complete with white clothing and wooden rackets, echoes that of decades past.
1994: Ernest Pignon-Ernest
Pignon-Ernest was a member of the Situationist International, an intellectual organization that included avant garde artists influenced by Dadaism and Surrealism.
1995: Donald Lipski
American Donald Lipski was known for his large-scale installation works and in this poster, his tennis racket sculpture comes to life on a two-dimensional surface.
1996: Jean-Michel Meurice
A documentary filmmaker and painter, Jean-Michel Meurice was inspired by the red clay and white lines of the Roland Garros courts in his 1996 poster.
1997: Antonio Saura
One of the most famous post-war painters to emerge in 1950’s Spain, Antonio Saura experimented with Surrealist characters, abstract styles and bright colors. He also illustrated many notable literary works, including Don Quixote and Nineteen Eighty-Four.
1998: Hervé Télémaque
Haitian-born Hervé Télémaque was inspired by Abstract Expressionism and Surrealism. He was part of the Narrative Figuration movement and often depicted everyday objects in his work.
1999: Antonio Seguí
An established Argentine artist, Antonio Seguí is known for painting grotesque characters in a humorous or satirical manner.
2000: Antoni Tàpies
One of the most respected artists of his generation, Antoni Tàpies explored a variety of artistic styles. In the 1980’s he began to create simple, spray-painted canvases incorporating versions of Oriental calligraphy and abstract imagery, as shown in his 2000 Roland Garros poster.
2001: Sean Scully
Oil painter Sean Scully is known for his use of panels and stripes, inspired by the landscapes of his Irish homeland. His works are displayed in the best museums in the world, including the Met, the Guggenheim and the Smithsonian.
Simply known by his first name, Arman is most famous for his “accumulations” of found objects. In earlier works, he used objects to create paint traces, similar to the tennis ball and racket forms on the poster below.
2003: Jane Hammond
Hammond was the first woman commissioned to design a French Open poster, and her work was the cover of Tennis Week magazine that year.
2004: Daniel Humair
A jazz composer and drummer, Daniel Humair’s French Open poster conveys rhythm and pulse.
2005: Jaume Plensa
One of the world’s leading public-installation sculptors, Jaume Plensa has been commissioned to design several famous monuments, including the Crown Fountain at Millennium Park in Chicago.
2006: Günther Förg
Gunther Forg, a painter, sculptor and photographer, explored the modernism movement through monochrome and minimalism.
2007: Kate Shepherd
The second female artist to design a French Open poster, Kate Shepherd is known for her use of color as well as architectural and geometric drawings.
2008: Arnulf Rainer
Austrian artist Arnulf Rainer was influenced by surrealism as well as Viennese Actionism, classified as performance and body art.
2009: Konrad Klapheck
Influenced by Surrealism and Pop Art, Klapheck is known for his paintings of everyday objects, though later he began to paint portraits of colleagues and celebrities.
2010: Nalini Malani
Pakistani-born artist Nalini Malani is influenced by her experience as a refugee of the Partition of India, and her works are charged with social and political commentary.
Cameroonian artist Barthélémy Toguo founded his nation’s first museum and art school.
2012: Hervé di Rosa
A Neo-Pop artist, di Rosa is known for his bold and colorful caricatures. The French-born painter, sculptor and animator rejects high-art and considers himself a craftsman.
2013: David Nash
British sculptor David Nash is known for his large woodworks. His favorite art tools are not paint and brush, but rather blowtorch and chainsaw.
2014: Juan Uslé
A Lyrical Abstract painter, Juan Uslé uses color, light and space to evoke the essence of his Spanish homeland and native New York City.
2015: Du Zhenjun
The first Chinese artist to design a French Open poster, Du Zhenjun is influenced by his training in traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy as well as contemporary Western art and abstract painting.
Which poster do you like best? Which one would you hang in your home?