Explore the bold and colourful imagery found on posters and other items from this revolutionary period.
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.
Eastern Art Online presents an extended version of the Cultural Revolution exhibition, providing additional information about the works on display in the Ashmolean's Eastern Art Paintings Gallery. This is the first of a two-part exhibition on the Cultural Revolution, also complemented by an exhibition of art from the same period in the Chinese Paintings Gallery.
Objects from past exhibitions may have now returned to our stores or a lender. Click into an individual object record to confirm whether or not an object is currently on display. Our object location data is usually updated on a monthly basis, so please contact the Jameel Study Centre if you are planning to visit the museum to see a particular Eastern Art object.