In 1942 Mao Zedong declared that all art and literature should serve politics first and art second. This policy was implemented for nearly four decades, most rigorously during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976).
In that period, the appearance of individual expression in works of art was discouraged and denounced. Cinema, theatre and musical performances were limited to a handful of ‘model’ productions imposed by Mao’s wife Jiang Qing. Paintings and calligraphy were mostly produced collaboratively or anonymously. Visual imagery of the leader and his state propaganda appeared everywhere – on large posters or small papercuts, and on items of everyday use. Sources for the images included both traditional Chinese compositions and Soviet socialist motifs. The printed, woven, modelled and cut examples in this exhibition were all collected in China between 1968 and 1979.
View the online exhibition here