International Institute for Sport History
Library and Museum

The IISOH is a Pennsylvania non-profit, educational, literary and research corporation
under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code and is organized to operate a Library and Museum
devoted to the History of Sport, Physical Education, Recreation, Dance, Sport in Art and the Olympic Games.
Donations are tax deductible - Federal Tax ID# 41-2041155

The Sport in Art Poster Series

The Sport in Art Poster Series

is a long-term project to increase public awareness and appreciation
of the arts as it relates to the subjects of history of sport, physical education,
recreation, dance, sport in art and the Olympic Games through poster art.

The poster above is GYMNASTICS POSTER #1, the first of six (6) posters for the sport of GYMNASTICS. Three posters will illustrate boys and three will illustrate girls. Recent action photography is the medium selected for this Gymnastics series. Our intention is to promote the rubric SPORT PHOTOGRAPHY as an art form as well as the sport of GYMNASTICS. All the posters are multi-lingual with credits along the bottom edge in English. This poster has ten languages included within the design.

GYMNASTICS Poster #1 is an image that captures action, motion, flight and excitement. The camera, through the keen eye of the photographer, has captured a moment in time as the young boy flies through the air after running at full speed and jumping onto a springboard. He is captured in flight, reaching forwards to the horse where he will plant his hands, do a somersault and attempt to land perfectly on his feet with good form. You can sense the thrill, the joy and the excitement as he flies through the air. The reaction of kids who have seen this poster in our test run has been "wow, I want to do that!"

Through the outstanding work of many photographers we hope to capture the joy of sport through their eyes, through their camera lens, and share it via high quality posters that will inspire youth to join in the sport no matter where they live or which language they speak. We all have a common language in SPORT.

These posters are printed in two editions, an "open edition" that is a permanent publication that can be replenished as needed, and a "limited edition" of 100 posters printed on a heavier stock paper. We printed 5,000 open edition posters that are now available. The limited edition is numbered from 1 to 100, and will never be printed again. This limited edition is designed for the collector's market and should, over a period of time, increase in value. The posters are both printed on high quality, archival paper with a clear coat, varnish finish. Posters are large at 24 x 36 inches and fit perfectly in standard size frames that are widely available.

Our first poster was designed for the sport of WRESTLING. The image is from the sixteenth century medical treatise by Hieronymus Mercurialis where he wrote in Latin about the healthful benefits of sports. The book is illustrated with many images of ancient Greek athletics and activities. Five languages are used within the design: English, French, German, Spanish and Latin.

Art itself is as old as the human experience as we know from cave paintings that are thousands of years old.
Ancient Egyptian paintings included hundreds of wrestlers inside the tombs at Beni-Hasan, Egypt.

Throughout the centuries sport has been depicted in various art forms from ancient Greek vase paintings...

... to Greek and Roman statuary...

... from oil paintings....

... to printed books.

Poster art and graphic design became very popular in the last decades of the 19th century as some of the greatest artists of the era brought their skill to the advertising world.

Today the posters designed by such famous artists as Alphonse Mucha, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Jules Chéret are hanging in museums worldwide. These vintage posters sell for hundreds of thousands of US Dollars when they appear in auctions. Originally these posters were used to advertise events such as World Fairs, cabarets and shows, as well as products like coffee, chocolate, wine and even soap.

The growth of posters for publicity was worldwide but a huge variety of work came from European artists and printers. These posters advertised ships and trains. A huge number of poster designs were made to advertise the newest rage of transportation in the late 19th century - bicycles.

Then came the automobile and eventually airplanes. By the 1920's posters were the main method of advertising for travel to resorts in such places as Italy, Alpine mountains in Switzerland and Austria, and all of the capitals of Europe. There are thousands of posters from this era that promoted almost every resort in Europe as well as other places in the USA, Mexico and Japan. Posters colorfully advertised sports events and recreational activity such as skiing, gymnastics and many other sports.

These posters were pasted with glue onto walls and kiosks and were never intended for long term use. The paper was not the good quality that was normal for writing letters, but had a higher acid content. And these posters were usually torn down, so few survived to this day. They were the most important form of advertising at the time. During World Wars I and II posters served a psychological role -- to motivate the public to support the war efforts in their countries. Posters remained a major form of advertising until television arrived after World War II.

The artistic designs of posters were replaced by photography in the 1950's. Posters faded from advertising as printing evolved, television gained adherents and magazines proliferated. The poster as art evolved into informational advertising for such things as concerts and musicians like the Beatles, and political posters during election years. Poster publishers found a market to offer reproductions of famous old artwork like Mona Lisa and other great works from Museums to youth and students worldwide. Today students and youth cover their walls with posters that depict their favorite singer or rapper, cartoon character or movie, while others hang bikini-clad girls on their dorm walls.

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In the beginning posters were quite large because they had to be seen from a distance - like billboards of today. They have gotten smaller in size and usually are between 11 x 14 inches to 25 by 40 inches. Sports posters became more popular after the Olympic Games used this medium to promote their mission. Today most sport posters look like calendars with team schedules or promote a famous athlete or specific team. The art of the 19th century has certainly been forgotten and we want to change that trend.


This series of posters is planned in the more traditional sense, a return to the true form of poster - a work of art for itself. We are encouraging artists and photographers to produce high quality work on the many subjects within SPORT, PHYSICAL EDUCATION, RECREATION, DANCE and the OLYMPIC GAMES that can be turned into posters. The IISOH posters that we will publish must also meet other criteria such as being of international interest - as opposed to merely local interest such as your local school or professional team. We are seeking works that are aesthetic, original or historical. Contemporary sports photography is welcomed as much as 18th and 19th century lithographs of sport. Old, historical images can be used in a creative way to promote an interest in the history of that sport. Our posters are intended to create interest in posters as an art form, sport in history, sport as an international phenomenon and a way of visually engaging the public for a specific sport or event.

We want to encourage artists to participate in this project.
We invite artists and photographers everywhere to create sport-themed artwork for the IISOH.
We will hold periodic contests with specific goals and rules. These events will be publicized.
But we always encourage artist's open submissions for consideration.

If we accept a design and use it in a future poster then we will award the artist a small stipend not less than $100 and not more than $500. The copyright of the image must also be granted to the IISOH in perpetuity without restrictions on usage. All posters that we print will be the American size of 24 x 36 inches (final trimmed size). Artists are credited in the credit section of the poster as well as other IISOH publications. Our submission rule is quite simple: any artist may submit up to five(5) designs for a poster using our "submission form" (to be posted as a pdf document soon). A non-refundable fee of ten Dollars ($10.00) must be paid with the submission and up to five designs may submitted at the same time for the single fee.

The GYMNASTICS poster illustrated above is the first of six being prepared for this sport. There will be three posters illustrating males and another three illustrating females - all in action or strength poses. Each poster also has the word GYMNASTICS in at least ten languages. The posters do not promote a nation, a team or a famous athlete but they do promote the sport itself. In this gymnastics series we are encouraging sports photographers to take great photos of gymnasts in action. Naturally the photographer must identify the person in the image and obtain written permission to grant perpetual use of their image to the IISOH. In case the athlete is under the age of 18 then we require the written permission of the parent or guardian of the subject(s). No financial incentive is offered to the subjects however the IISOH policy is to give the subject(s) 20 free copies of the poster.

The IISOH originally intended to sell these posters wholesale but we have changed our minds! They are now only available through donations made to the IISOH. Donate $50.00 (fifty Dollars) to the IISOH and we will be happy to send you a tube of 20 posters that you can give away to athletes, fans, supporters or even resold if you need a fund-raiser. We desire to become a major poster publisher for the subject of Sport in Art. We want every kid in the world to have a poster!!

The IISOH accepts larger donations in support of the SPORT IN ART POSTER SERIES. A donation of at least five thousand Dollars ($5,000) will enable the donor to have their name and logo in the credits section at the bottom of the poster. Each poster we publish has an "open edition" first printing of 5,000 copies plus a "limited edition" on heavier, archival paper of just 100 copies.

(listed in no particular order:)

  • Golf
  • Tennis
  • American Football
  • Soccer
  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Ice Hockey
  • Swimming
  • Track and field/Athletics
  • Fencing
  • Wrestling
  • Rowing
  • Sailing
  • Volleyball
  • Weight Lifting
  • Bodybuilding
  • Many others, in fact almost every sport!! We have plans for over 200 posters.

International Institute for Sport History

History of Sport
Physical Education
Sport in Art
Olympic Games

Read our complete MISSION STATEMENT here

The IISOH is unique in North America in its comprehensive mission
and seeks public, private and corporate financial support to achieve these goals.
The Board of Directors will express its gratitude to generous benefactors
by granting perpetual naming rights to fully funded endowments.

Donations to the IISOH are tax deductible.
Federal Tax ID# 41-2041155

to other IISOH pages

Contact the IISOH:
Mr. Harvey Abrams, President
International Institute for Sport History

PO Box 175
State College, PA, USA 16804

Coming in 2019 - the European office for the IISOH in Vienna, Austria

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This page was created October 15, 2017
This page was updated October 30, 31, 2017
This page was updated November 4, 2017
This page was updated December 31, 2018