Political Propaganda

Up Contents Timeline and Maps



Much of the graphic arts produced in China in the twentieth century is politically motivated and needs to be seen in the context of the tumultuous events of the century.  The following is a quick recap of these decades.  


By the beginning of the 1900s many people felt that it was necessary to completely do away with the old order.  In 1912 the last Manchu ruler was forced to abdicate and the Republic of China was established by the Nationalist Party, thus putting an end to the 2000-year-old imperial system.  The new republic, however, was plagued with problems.  The political leadership was unstable and powerful regional warlords posed a constant threat to unity.  By the 1930s, the fledgling Communist Party was gaining in size and strength in Yanan after being forced to flee there by the Nationalists.  The two parties joined forces to fight the Japanese invasion in 1937, but civil war resumed after World War II ended in 1945.  By 1949 the Nationalists had fled to Taiwan.  On October 1st of that year Mao Zedong declared the founding of the People's Republic of China  (PRC) in Tianenmen Square.  The establishment of the PRC would profoundly change the arts in China.  

Woodcuts of the 30s and 40s


The PRC under Mao (1949-76)

In this section we will examine how political activists made use of the graphic arts to convey their messages.  We will look at woodcuts from the 1930s and 40s, as well as  political propaganda in the People's Republic of China under Mao Zedong.