9783822826195 / 3822826197

Chinese Propaganda Posters.




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About the book:

Besides reproducing the stunning, otherworldly beauty of Michael Wolf's massive Chinese propaganda poster collection so brightly it practically gives you a suntan, his book gives you a sense of how the illiterate masses used these images instead of newspapers and TV to get the news and define themselves. In the introduction, the brilliant Anchee Min explains how the 1974 poster of a pigtailed girl heroically posed amid martyrs made Min change her own look, which got her recruited by Madame Mao to star in a propaganda film. Soon Min appeared in a poster--or rather, Min transformed, muscularized, rendered in shining primary colors. As you page through the hundreds of posters, you see how nimbly the artists handle symbolism and composition, favoring right angles (Mao rising rocketlike from the horizon of the marching populace) and diagonals (citizens' rifles form an X pattern echoed in the next panel by the US jets they've downed, as Mao crows, "The atom bomb is a paper tiger the US reactionary uses to scare people! It looks terrible, but in fact, it isn't."). Dong Cunrui, who used his body as a post supporting explosives to blow up a bridge, is a common vertical image, balanced by the dramatic diagonal pose (so like Captain America) of Huang Ji-guang, who blocked US machine guns with his body in Korea. Whenever a poster shows a young guy or girl at an angle, battling waves or giving a running dog a noogie, the image quotes Ji-guang, the visual equivalent of a rap sample of an old-school riff. This book should've been arranged chronologically; instead, it's whimsically structured to correspond with the chapters of Mao's Red Book. Even so, you can't miss the amazing shift that came around 1980: unisex suits give way to flashy Western clothes, prim pigtails to windblown coifs, tanks to TV sets and snazzy fridges, socialist realism to Norman Rockwell and Seattle World's Fair futurism. --Tim Appelo

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