Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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12 / Conflict and Resistance

Chairman Mao en Route to Anyuan
Chairman Mao en Route to Anyuan
Artist / Origin Chinese School
Region: East Asia
Date 20th century
Material Color lithograph
Dimensions H: 29 ½ in. (75 cm.), W: 21 3/5 in. (55 cm.)
Location Private Collection
Credit © The Chambers Gallery, London/Bridgeman Art Library

expert perspective

Melissa ChiuMuseum Director and Vice President for Global Art Programs, Asia Society

Chairman Mao en Route to Anyuan

» Chinese School

expert perspective

Melissa Chiu Melissa Chiu Museum Director and Vice President for Global Art Programs, Asia Society

Posters from the Cultural Revolution served a very important educational role that when, in fact, we think of the Cultural Revolution, which spanned from 1966 to ’76, we think immediately of posters. So if anything, they really define for many the art of this period. In a time when China was really going through great political turmoil and change, in fact, the Cultural Revolution is often known to people more as a period of destruction of not just traditional arts and ideas of traditional feudalism, but also in terms of a modernization process. It was a time when China sought to modernize itself by destroying anything that resembled tradition. And posters became a part of that. They disseminated in a very quick way political messages, but also the types of images that were deemed revolutionary in their time. What most people don’t realize is that the posters were actually based on large scale oil paintings, many of them dealing with historical subjects or validating Mao’s role in the revolution, or even talking about the life of workers or peasants during this period who were the heroic figures. Some of the oil paintings, such as Liu Chunhua’s Mao goes to Anyuan, were reproduced nearly a billion times. And so you had, I think, more than any other country and any other period in time, a really wide dissemination of visual culture. There was not a person living in China during this period that did not know this painting.” 

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