Posters from Communist China

How Chinese Communists presented themselves and their idea of an ideal society

This source collection contains posters from Communist China. It explains how the Chinese communists presented themselves and their idea of an ideal society to the people. Art is often used as a tool to promote ideas and ideologies, to clearly present to the public a view of what is “right” and what is “wrong”. This collection of Chinese Socialist Realist artworks gives an idea how this works in practice. Socialist Realist art had to be easy to understand, and easy to relate to by the (ordinary) people to whom the art was addressed. Above all, in the Chinese case, it had to be supportive of the aims of the Chinese communist regime and its ideology. As a result, the scenarios are always presented in a positive way with glorified ordinary people (including farmers, soldiers and workers, both male and female) and political and ideological leaders. Art was filled with happiness, leaving no room for any criticism. The posters cover twenty years of Chinese communism and show domestic, military and industrial scenes all within the context of Socialist Realism Art. Because they cover a period of 20 years, the source collection is organised in a chronological way.

Acknowledgements: This source collection has been developed by Laura Steenbrink with the support of Romana Šijaković. The source collection makes use of sources provided by the National Library of Denmark.

Posters from Communist China

This source collection contains posters from Communist China. It explains how the Chinese communists presented themselves and their idea of an ideal society to the people. Art is often used as a tool to promote ideas and ideologies, to clearly present to the public a view of what is “right” and what is “wrong”. This collection of Chinese Socialist Realist artworks gives an idea how this works in practice. Socialist Realist art had to be easy to understand, and easy to relate to by the (ordinary) people to whom the art was addressed. Above all, in the Chinese case, it had to be supportive of the aims of the Chinese communist regime and its ideology. As a result, the scenarios are always presented in a positive way with glorified ordinary people (including farmers, soldiers and workers, both male and female) and political and ideological leaders. Art was filled with happiness, leaving no room for any criticism. The posters cover twenty years of Chinese communism and show domestic, military and industrial scenes all within the context of Socialist Realism Art. Because they cover a period of 20 years, the source collection is organised in a chronological way. Acknowledgements: This source collection has been developed by Laura Steenbrink with the support of Romana Šijaković. The source collection makes use of sources provided by the National Library of Denmark.

Posters from Communist China

This source collection contains posters from Communist China. It explains how the Chinese communists presented themselves and their idea of an ideal society to the people. Art is often used as a tool to promote ideas and ideologies, to clearly present to the public a view of what is “right” and what is “wrong”. This collection of Chinese Socialist Realist artworks gives an idea how this works in practice. Socialist Realist art had to be easy to understand, and easy to relate to by the (ordinary) people to whom the art was addressed. Above all, in the Chinese case, it had to be supportive of the aims of the Chinese communist regime and its ideology. As a result, the scenarios are always presented in a positive way with glorified ordinary people (including farmers, soldiers and workers, both male and female) and political and ideological leaders. Art was filled with happiness, leaving no room for any criticism. The posters cover twenty years of Chinese communism and show domestic, military and industrial scenes all within the context of Socialist Realism Art. Because they cover a period of 20 years, the source collection is organised in a chronological way. Acknowledgements: This source collection has been developed by Laura Steenbrink with the support of Romana Šijaković. The source collection makes use of sources provided by the National Library of Denmark.

Apple Harvest

Seven people are in an apple field, picking apples. The adults are all female and there is one boy, helping to carry the apples to the two women at the front. Because of the bright colour, it seems that they are enjoying the work. This is emphasised by the socialist realist atmosphere of the poster (1958). (National Library of Denmark,OA 102-2006-12, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Apple Harvest

Seven people are in an apple field, picking apples. The adults are all female and there is one boy, helping to carry the apples to the two women at the front. Because of the bright colour, it seems that they are enjoying the work. This is emphasised by the socialist realist atmosphere of the poster (1958). (National Library of Denmark,OA 102-2006-12, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Two Girls in a Greenhouse

This poster shows two little girls attending to flowers in a colourful greenhouse. They wear clothes with bright, cheerful colours and have happy facial expressions, which makes that they seem to be enjoying the work in the greenhouse. These elements of enjoying work, happy facial expressions and bright colours make this a typical poster of Communist China (1958). (National Library of Denmark, OA 102-2010-pl. 15, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Two Girls in a Greenhouse

This poster shows two little girls attending to flowers in a colourful greenhouse. They wear clothes with bright, cheerful colours and have happy facial expressions, which makes that they seem to be enjoying the work in the greenhouse. These elements of enjoying work, happy facial expressions and bright colours make this a typical poster of Communist China (1958). (National Library of Denmark, OA 102-2010-pl. 15, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Exercise to enhance physical fitness

A young man appears to be running fast. He is wearing sport clothes, has muscles and seems to be putting a great effort in his exercise. On the background a tank is accompanied by running men, while enjoying air support (1960). (National Library of Denmark OA 102-2005-pl. 15, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Exercise to enhance physical fitness

A young man appears to be running fast. He is wearing sport clothes, has muscles and seems to be putting a great effort in his exercise. On the background a tank is accompanied by running men, while enjoying air support (1960). (National Library of Denmark OA 102-2005-pl. 15, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Defending the Motherland

A soldier with a large gun in his hand is standing in a mountain landscape. The text “enhancing the ability to defend the motherland”, is written on the poster. The appearance of the soldier is strong and determined. The colours and message of the poster make it a typical image of socialist realism (1962).   (National Library of Denmark OA 102-2005-pl. 16, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Defending the Motherland

A soldier with a large gun in his hand is standing in a mountain landscape. The text “enhancing the ability to defend the motherland”, is written on the poster. The appearance of the soldier is strong and determined. The colours and message of the poster make it a typical image of socialist realism (1962).   (National Library of Denmark OA 102-2005-pl. 16, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Two Girls Attending to General Hygiene

Two young girls are walking on the pavement with a young boy. The girls point towards the banana peels on the ground and looking at the boy. They seem to teach him a lesson about hygiene. The style, colours and setting of the poster make it an example of a poster from Communist China (1963). (National Library of Denmark OA 102-2012-pl. 23, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Two Girls Attending to General Hygiene

Two young girls are walking on the pavement with a young boy. The girls point towards the banana peels on the ground and looking at the boy. They seem to teach him a lesson about hygiene. The style, colours and setting of the poster make it an example of a poster from Communist China (1963). (National Library of Denmark OA 102-2012-pl. 23, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Long Live Our Great Motherland

On this poster a group of people is standing in front of red flags, probably Chinese, looking over the land. The people in the front wear working clothes and military uniforms and carry guns. The proud expression, bright flags and colours fit the socialist realist style of the poster (1964).   (National Library of Denmark OA 102-2005-pl. 20, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Long Live Our Great Motherland

On this poster a group of people is standing in front of red flags, probably Chinese, looking over the land. The people in the front wear working clothes and military uniforms and carry guns. The proud expression, bright flags and colours fit the socialist realist style of the poster (1964).   (National Library of Denmark OA 102-2005-pl. 20, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Modernisation of Agriculture

Two women are standing in the countryside, surrounded by flowers. They carry a rope, basket and tools. Their smiling appearances and the happy colours of the poster make it typical for Socialist Realism (1965). (National Library of Denmark OA 102-2007-pl. 11, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Modernisation of Agriculture

Two women are standing in the countryside, surrounded by flowers. They carry a rope, basket and tools. Their smiling appearances and the happy colours of the poster make it typical for Socialist Realism (1965). (National Library of Denmark OA 102-2007-pl. 11, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Unite Against US Aggression

A mixed group of people with different clothing styles, appearances and carrying different weapons, have serious facial expressions and seem to be aggressive towards an enemy, namely the United States (1970). (National Library of Denmark OA 102-2005-pl. 22, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Unite Against US Aggression

A mixed group of people with different clothing styles, appearances and carrying different weapons, have serious facial expressions and seem to be aggressive towards an enemy, namely the United States (1970). (National Library of Denmark OA 102-2005-pl. 22, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Distribution of Red Books at a Primary School

A group of adults is standing behind a desk with large piles of Mao’s Red Book. The children show the books to each other, the adults or are reading it themselves. They have happy facial expression. Behind the desk a portrait of Mao hangs on the wall (1971). (National Library of Denmark OA 102-2005-pl. 5, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Distribution of Red Books at a Primary School

A group of adults is standing behind a desk with large piles of Mao’s Red Book. The children show the books to each other, the adults or are reading it themselves. They have happy facial expression. Behind the desk a portrait of Mao hangs on the wall (1971). (National Library of Denmark OA 102-2005-pl. 5, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Studying and Explaining Mao’s Red Book

This poster shows two men and one woman in a factory. The first man seems to be explaining to the other two, with the red book of Mao in his hand. The woman is taking notes and both seem as if they are eager to learn and listen carefully. This makes the poster a typical image of Socialist Realism (1971). (National Library of Denmark Kob-kin-139, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Studying and Explaining Mao’s Red Book

This poster shows two men and one woman in a factory. The first man seems to be explaining to the other two, with the red book of Mao in his hand. The woman is taking notes and both seem as if they are eager to learn and listen carefully. This makes the poster a typical image of Socialist Realism (1971). (National Library of Denmark Kob-kin-139, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Working Young Woman

A young woman is depicted underneath a large bridge in constructions. More workers are on top of the bridge and another female is working underneath the bridge as well. The lights show that it is evening or night (1971). (National Library of Denmark Kin-pl. 14, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Working Young Woman

A young woman is depicted underneath a large bridge in constructions. More workers are on top of the bridge and another female is working underneath the bridge as well. The lights show that it is evening or night (1971). (National Library of Denmark Kin-pl. 14, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Children Watching Festivities Inside

A group of children is playing outside, while trying to watch the scenery behind the windows, where a group of adults is standing around a couple. The woman is holding flowers. The poster is accompanied by a message that when the children grow old, they want to be at the countryside too (1972). (National Library of Denmark Kin-pl. 51, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Children Watching Festivities Inside

A group of children is playing outside, while trying to watch the scenery behind the windows, where a group of adults is standing around a couple. The woman is holding flowers. The poster is accompanied by a message that when the children grow old, they want to be at the countryside too (1972). (National Library of Denmark Kin-pl. 51, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Guided Tour in a Textile Factory

A woman in uniform is standing in front of a textile machine, probably giving a tour to a group of people standing around her. The majority of them are female. The group is dressed elegantly. The facial expressions, bright colours and combination of uniforms and colourful, elegant clothes, makes this poster part of the Socialist Realism style (1973). (National Library of Denmark OA 102-2012-pl. 16, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Guided Tour in a Textile Factory

A woman in uniform is standing in front of a textile machine, probably giving a tour to a group of people standing around her. The majority of them are female. The group is dressed elegantly. The facial expressions, bright colours and combination of uniforms and colourful, elegant clothes, makes this poster part of the Socialist Realism style (1973). (National Library of Denmark OA 102-2012-pl. 16, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Women Carry Half the World

This poster shows three strong women in front of a red flag, probably the Chinese flag. They are portrayed as a pilot and two workers. The confident and happy appearances are typical of Socialist Realism (1974).   (National Library of Denmark Kob-kin-115, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Women Carry Half the World

This poster shows three strong women in front of a red flag, probably the Chinese flag. They are portrayed as a pilot and two workers. The confident and happy appearances are typical of Socialist Realism (1974).   (National Library of Denmark Kob-kin-115, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Celebration

A large group of people is standing outside a city. A group of children with musical instruments and lanterns is sitting in front of the group, a group that seems to be led by the man dressed in grey. In the background there is a procession of people and red flags, probably the Chinese flag. The atmosphere of the poster is happy and cheerful, the people are probably celebrating (1974). (National Library of Denmark OA 102-2012-pl. 1, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Celebration

A large group of people is standing outside a city. A group of children with musical instruments and lanterns is sitting in front of the group, a group that seems to be led by the man dressed in grey. In the background there is a procession of people and red flags, probably the Chinese flag. The atmosphere of the poster is happy and cheerful, the people are probably celebrating (1974). (National Library of Denmark OA 102-2012-pl. 1, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Meeting in a Factory

On this poster a woman is standing at a table in a factory, with a group of people, listening and taking notes. The smiling faces, positive attitude and bright atmosphere is typical for Socialist Realism (1975). (National Library of Denmark, Kon-kin-109, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Meeting in a Factory

On this poster a woman is standing at a table in a factory, with a group of people, listening and taking notes. The smiling faces, positive attitude and bright atmosphere is typical for Socialist Realism (1975). (National Library of Denmark, Kon-kin-109, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Education of the people

This poster shows two men sitting behind a desk with a woman in their midst. As the text underneath the poster suggests, people are being educated to carry out and continue the proletarian revolution. All three have content facial expressions, making this poster and its description a good example of a propaganda poster of Communist China (1975). (National Library of Denmark, Kin-pl. 82, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Education of the people

This poster shows two men sitting behind a desk with a woman in their midst. As the text underneath the poster suggests, people are being educated to carry out and continue the proletarian revolution. All three have content facial expressions, making this poster and its description a good example of a propaganda poster of Communist China (1975). (National Library of Denmark, Kin-pl. 82, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Chairman Mao and the People’s Liberation Army

The largest part of this poster is occupied by Mao, standing straight. On the background people in uniform and with rifles in their hands appear to be marching. The forceful attitude of Mao and the equality of the people make this poster fit to Communist China (1977). (National Library of Denmark OA 102-2005-pl. 26, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Chairman Mao and the People’s Liberation Army

The largest part of this poster is occupied by Mao, standing straight. On the background people in uniform and with rifles in their hands appear to be marching. The forceful attitude of Mao and the equality of the people make this poster fit to Communist China (1977). (National Library of Denmark OA 102-2005-pl. 26, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Female Dong Ting Militia

This poster shows a group of armed women, the so-called Dong Ting militia. They were fighting for the Chinese army against possible threats from the United States. The woman in the green uniform is giving instructions and is probably the leader. They are heavily armed and from all ages. Nonetheless, despite their fighting appearance, they are smiling. This makes the poster a good example of (later) Socialist Realism (1978). (National Library of Denmark OA 102-2006-pl. 11, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Female Dong Ting Militia

This poster shows a group of armed women, the so-called Dong Ting militia. They were fighting for the Chinese army against possible threats from the United States. The woman in the green uniform is giving instructions and is probably the leader. They are heavily armed and from all ages. Nonetheless, despite their fighting appearance, they are smiling. This makes the poster a good example of (later) Socialist Realism (1978). (National Library of Denmark OA 102-2006-pl. 11, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

School Children with their Teacher

Two young girls and one boy are portrayed with a woman in front of flowers. They all wear bright coloured clothes and a red scarf around their neck. The woman is holding the two girls, creating the appearance that they are in understanding with each other. All are smiling. All in all, the elements of this poster make it an example of a socialist realist poster (1979). (National Library of Denmark OA 102-2006-pl. 45, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

School Children with their Teacher

Two young girls and one boy are portrayed with a woman in front of flowers. They all wear bright coloured clothes and a red scarf around their neck. The woman is holding the two girls, creating the appearance that they are in understanding with each other. All are smiling. All in all, the elements of this poster make it an example of a socialist realist poster (1979). (National Library of Denmark OA 102-2006-pl. 45, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)