The posters used in a propaganda campaign in China are the most iconic pieces of propaganda in Chinese history.
The posters were designed by artist Zhang Yuzhuo and were made by the government of the People’s Republic of China in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the year of the Cultural Revolution, a sweeping anti-communist crackdown that swept through the country.
A few hundred of the posters were destroyed and they were removed from circulation, but the rest of the collection was left in the city of Wuhan in southwestern China.
“It’s the most valuable and famous posters of the period,” said Prof Brian Lenton, from the Australian National University’s Chinese studies department.
“They are iconic and they are also quite valuable in terms of cultural artefacts, because they tell the story of the Chinese revolution and the Communist Party.”‘
The Communist Party is not China’The posters are now part of the National Museum of China, which opened in 2014.
It has an exhibition on them called China in Posters: History and Theory.
“We know that there are posters that depict the era of the Communist regime,” Mr Lenton said.
“But what we don’t know is why they were produced and how they were used.”‘
There was a great desire for the posters’The Chinese government was very keen on promoting their own image as being the ultimate exemplar of socialism, and to show how Chinese culture was the ultimate manifestation of Chinese nationalism.
But the posters had a profound impact on the country’s psyche, as they were seen as a symbol of the government’s propaganda efforts.
“When the posters are seen in the context of China today, it’s hard not to see the Communist party as the ultimate symbol of socialism,” Prof Lenton told AM.
“There was this great desire to create this image, and the government was keen on pushing the image of the communist party as being a great exemplar, of Chinese society as being one that was pure, shining, and shining again.”
The posters have since been removed from display, but there are some that remain in storage.
“These posters were not just removed and put into storage, they were also kept and were in storage for several years,” Prof Nathan Kwan, a lecturer in Chinese studies at the Australian Maritime University, told AM, adding that the posters themselves have been in storage since the 1960s.
“This is a bit of a historical artefact, it has been around for hundreds of years,” he said.’
They’re a symbol’The National Museum’s exhibition explores the use of propaganda posters and other propaganda materials to portray China in a positive light.
The collection also includes a variety of propaganda works made by artists in other countries, including paintings and drawings.
“A great deal of the artwork in China today is based on images that were produced in countries other than China,” Prof Kwan said.