Chinese Cultural Revolution propaganda posters, 1960s-1970s

In 1966, Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong launched a political campaign known as the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976). Mao called on the youth of China to help overcome capitalist influence and bourgeois thinking in government, education, media and the arts, and to rejuvenate the revolutionary spirit.

Calling themselves The Red Guards, the radical students set out to destroy the "four children": old ideas, customs, habits and culture. He led the questioning, humiliation and beating of teachers and intellectuals and traveled the country destroying cultural heritage.

During the Cultural Revolution, traditional artists were condemned as counter-revolutionaries and their work was destroyed. A new style of art was needed which supported the Maoist line and served workers, farmers and soldiers.

This decade was marked by the struggle for power at the upper levels of government and the mobilization of young people to fight for power and implement Maoist ideas.

One of the primary vessels for the dissemination of instructions and models of behavior was the propaganda arts. The vivid posters were created to inspire citizens to put forth their labor for concerns such as agriculture, industry and national defence, as well as sanitation and family planning.

Slogans are often used with imagery in posters, which are usually written in bold, Chinese script. They include pro-revolutionary messages about "working hard", "uniting for victory" and "working towards a common communist goal". Many posters use "bright" colors and red is highly visible because it is the color of communism and revolution.

Much of the work resulting from the Cultural Revolution is attributed to committees or groups rather than individuals. Thousands of copies of the posters were printed and sold cheaply because the institution at the time wanted the poster to be something that should be on the walls of everyone's home.

Many of the posters were painted by hand and then printed as lithographs, a process that uses stones, oils, and chemicals to create the prints.

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