Costacos Brothers: The Greatest Sports Posters Ever Made

Salon 94 is pleased to present For the Kids, an exhibition of sports lithographs from the archives of John and Tock Costacos.  Opening on Thursday, June 23rd 2011 at Salon 94 Freemans and curated by Fabienne Stephan and Adam Shopkorn, the show serves as a mini-retrospective of early Costacos posters from 1986 through 1990…

Costacos Brothers, originally a sports t-shirt manufacturer, built a reputation for “fantasy” sports posters that gave professional sports heroes a larger-than-life look and appeal.  Their products captured the imagination of sports fans at a time when athletes were becoming pop stars.  Without a license from professional sports leagues, they were unable to produce game action shots.  Instead, they made personality posters, marrying pop culture to an athlete and his persona.  They understood that at a certain point a player gains a public profile that transcends their team, catapulting them to individual stardom…

Costacos said “We wanted to make the athletes into comic book heroes.  They’re larger than life.  They’re Superman.  They’re Batman. They’re Hollywood action stars that kick the shit out of 20 bad guys always living to fight another day.”  The Costacos signature images, with their campy porno-like titles, are at once commando-kitsch and aspirational.  Nike’s posters used similar players to similar ends, helping athletes like George “Iceman” Gervin and Darrell “Dr. Dunkenstein” Griffith achieve iconic pop status.

Koons’s Duchampian gesture brings a media phenomenon into the gallery space, highlighting its cultural relevance.  The roles played by the athletes in the Nike ads were those typically associated with power,  standing in contrast to a social system that traditionally denied power to African-Americans. Salon 94 Freemans, is located at 1 Freeman Alley, New York, NY 10002. The gallery is open Tuesday 1:00-6:00, and Wednesday through Saturday, 11:00-6:00. For further information please call (212) 529-7400 or email

I can’t begin to tell you how much I love the Costacos Brothers posters. They defined my childhood. You couldn’t see the walls of my bedroom because I had some many on the walls. To this day, I have that Bo Jackson Black and Blue poster in a frame up in my garage. I’m so pissed that I won’t be in New York tomorrow to check out this gallery. Well, the next best thing is see some of the posters that will be on display there. Here are some of their iconic posters, in no particular order. Just scroll and smile. Cheers to you Salon 94, and long live the Costacos Brothers sports posters.

Have a favorite poster? How ’bout a favorite one to mock? Why? Do tell. Couple things. I can’t tell you how badly I want Eric Davis’ giant gun with baseballs in the chamber. Still can’t believe they made a Jim Everett poster. Too funny.


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