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A major goal of the Communist government was to develop an advanced, industrial economy.  When the Communists took power in 1949, many of the country’s resources had been depleted by years of war.  The new government promised to rebuild China.  Technical and scientific developments that would improve production were promoted.  Woodcuts and posters expressed the optimism of the new administration through images of scientific progress. 


Mao believed firmly in the potential of human beings.  He thought that, once mobilized, they could transform both themselves and the world through the power of their wills.  


How would you describe the relationship between people and nature in this woodblock print? How does it reflect Mao’s ideas about human potential?

Bridge building on the Yellow River    source

The Communist Party taught the peasants that the old order of social and economic inequality was not natural, but a perversion caused by the institution of private property.  To replace that "feudal" order, the party brought a vision of communal order where all would work together unselfishly for common goals.  In 1964 Mao chose Dazhai, a poor village in Shanxi province, to become a model of new collective farming methods.  In a few years Dazhai was transformed into a prosperous community.  "Learn from Dazhai" became a popular motto. 

How does the style of the poster to the right fit with Mao’s utopian vision?  

What features has the artist made the most legible?  

Why do you think the artist chose an aerial point of view?


Dazhai                                                                            source


The words on the poster below read: "A new flowering of village culture:  the use of scientific farming methods will result in great fruits."

What are some objects indicating scientific progress in the poster?  What form of folk art is this based on?  Compared to the black and white woodcuts, why do you think the peasant class would find this more appealing?

Scientific farming                                                                                   source


Traditional Chinese landscape painting fell into disfavor in the People’s Republic of China due to its historical association with an intellectual elite.  However, woodcut artists attempted to apply new themes to landscape views.

What are some elements of the old and new artistic styles in this scene of a mountain valley?

Modern landscape poster                  source

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