Chinese Posters

1. Early years (1949-1965)
2. Cultural Revolution (1966-1976)
3. Modernization (1977-1997)

In 1966 Mao launches the Cultural Revolution to eliminate his reformist rivals and set the country back on a rigid communist course. An enormous propaganda campaign gets under way, with hundreds of thousands of copies of posters being distributed. The posters show political adversaries crushed by giant workers, determined volunteer soldiers carry machine guns and seem ready to use them. The smiling image of Mao overshadows all, hovering above crowds carrying red flags and Little Red Books.

Designers use examples rather than an individual style, as individualism is not appreciated. Experienced designers have to work anonymously or in collectives, or are not allowed to work at all. Every detail has a distinct meaning on the posters. Gestures and grouping of figures in frozen poses often call to mind scenes from the revolutionary Beijing Operas. Red is the dominant colour on almost every poster. Every nuance of the ruling ideology is spread with an incredible intensity.

In the early 1970s the situation loosens up slightly. The emphasis shifts to the countryside and to the glorification of life in the agricultural communes. Posters become more colourful again, often painted in the style that combines heavy contours with carefully shaded colours. The folk painters from Huxian county are touted as true folk artists, demonstrating the innate artistic abilities of the people. Hundreds of their paintings are made into posters.

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21. Long live the victory of the revolutionary cultural line of Chairman Mao, 1967

22. Fully criticize the Chinese Khrushchev from a political, ideological, and theoretical perspective, 1967

23. With regard to the great teacher Chairman Mao, cherish the word 'Loyalty', 1968

24. The Revolutionary Committees are good, 1968

25. Zhejiang Workers, Farmers and Soldiers Art Academy collective, The reddest, reddest, red sun in our heart, Chairman Mao, and us together, 1968

26. Shanghai People's Fine Arts Publishing House collective, Forging ahead courageously while following the great leader Chairman Mao, 1969

27. Propaganda Group of the Revolutionary Committee of the Shanghai No. 3 Ink Factory, Firmly grasp large-scale revolutionary criticism, 1969

28. Political Department of the Zhejiang Military Region of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, Resolutely destroy all enemies who dare to encroach upon us!, 1970

29. Red Eagle Corps of the Air force stationed in Nanjing, We are determined to liberate Taiwan!, 1970

30. The 'Eastern Sea is Red' Unit of the Navy Air force stationed in Shanghai, Be prepared at all times and be sure to destroy the enemy intruders!, 1970

31. Revolutionary Group of the Second Liaison Office of the Fifth Battalion of the Shanghai Cultural System, Prepare for struggle, prepare for famine, for the people, 1970

32. Go among the workers, peasants, and soldiers, and into the thick of struggle!, ca. 1967-1972

33. Keep the country in heart and the whole world in mind!, ca. 1967-1972

34. In industry, learn from Daqing, 1971

35. Nanjing City Fine Arts Creation Study Group, Becoming more prosperous every day, 1972

36. Zhang Yuqing, The Yangzi River Bridge at Nanking, ca. 1974

37. Carry forward the revolutionary spirit of Lu Xun, ca. 1970-1975

38. Happy that pulling up seedlings no longer needs bending the waist, ca. 1970-1975

39. Representatives of brother nationalities visit a textile machinery plant, ca. 1970-1975

40. Socialism is Fine, ca. 1970-1975

41. Qin Yongchun, Busy with a bumper harvest, ca. 1970-1975

42. The fish is fat and big, ca. 1970-1975

43. Little guests in the Moon Palace, ca. 1970-1975?

44. Zhao Dawu, Unite to achieve an even greater victory!, 1973

45. Dong Zhengyi, The commune's fish pond, 1973

46. Li Chenhua, The brigade's ducks, 1973

47. Wu Min, Enthusiastically welcome the victorious opening of the Fourth National People's Congress ..., 1973

48. Yao Zhongyu, Always keep the gun firmly in hand, 1974

49. Song Wenzhi, On the banks of the Yangzi River, Daqing blooms, 1975

50. Jiang Zhongbo, Liu Xiaoman, Increase alertness, strengthen military training, 1974

51. Zhao Kunhan, The production brigade's reading room, 1975

52. Cheng Minsheng, Fresh breeze in the shop, 1975

53. Huxian peasant painters collective, Zhao Kunhan, Develop physical education activities in peasant villages, 1975