TYPE: Poster
DIMENSIONS: Varying sizes, the largest 41 1/2" x 30"
COMPONENTS: The five posters bear some small tears at the edges, else very good.
NOTES: From a single collection obtained entirely in China pre-2000.
ITEM ID: 4435
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Chinese Cultural Revolution Posters

DATE
Century: 20th (1901-2000)

Good group of five very colorful and visually striking Chinese propaganda posters intended to romanticize the effects of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. The Revolution in fact resulted in millions of deaths through famine, forced labor, and executions.

The posters feature photographs of smiling party leaders, peasants working in fields and in industry, and massive rallies. Others feature illustrations of large groups of the Chinese populace, intended to showcase the diversity of their backgrounds, which ironically was largely eliminated by the reforms of the Cultural Revolution.

According to scholar Jeffrey Kinkley, “This is a uniquely timed document! Nice. Celebrates the 35th anniversary of Mao’s Yan’an talks. That would be May 1977. Mao is dead (1976), but Deng Xiaoping is not yet in power. That is usually dated Nov.-Dec. 1978. ‘Let literature and the arts serve the workers, peasants, and soldiers.’ The poster literally commemorates the ‘publication’ of the Yan’an Talks on Literature and Art, so it could be slight bit later, but still before Deng Xiaoping took the reins. From Bonnie S. McDougall, the authority on those awful “Talks”: ‘Mao spoke in Yan’an on 2 May and 23 May 1942, but despite subsequent conventional reference to the ‘publication’ of his speeches that year, they were not actually published until 19 October 1943 in commemoration of the seventh anniversary of the death of Lu Xun.’ “

Again according to Jeffrey Kinkley, “Another remarkably timed poster [of Mao Zedong]! Mao Zedong died in Sept. 1976. The Gang of Four, starring Mme. Mao et al., were deposed in Oct. 1976. So here is a poster about a meeting kicked off in Dec. 25, 1976, when Mao’s handpicked successor Hua Guofeng is in power for a short time (not yet Deng Xiaoping), the top left fellow clapping. The title message is a perfect mixed message, a virtual oxymoron: “Thoroughly criticize the ‘Gang of Four.’ Launch a new high tide in a Movement to Study Dazahai [as the model] in Agriculture.” The G-4 and the Dazhai Commune both epitomize extreme leftist Maoism in the past years of the Cultural Revolution. Overthrow the evil people; keep the Maoist policies. Poster printed Jan. 1977. The purpose seems to be upholding the legitimacy of Hua Guofeng as the true successor of Mao Zedong, even though he was not of course nearly of the stature of Mao.”