The Printed Image in China, 8th–21st Century

May 5–July 29, 2012

Prints in the Post-1949 Era

After the founding of the People's Republic in 1949, artistic activity was institutionalized and print departments were established at the major art academies, particularly in Beijing, Hangzhou, and Chongqing. The quest for a national style in the politically more liberal years of the early 1950s and after the break with the Soviet Union in the early 1960s brought a revival of traditional multicolored woodcuts created with water-soluble ink. High-quality reprints of famous seventeenth-century decorated stationery in 1952 manifested the government's promotion of traditional arts and crafts.

During the Cultural Revolution (1967–76), poster-size prints featuring heroic laborers set against a red backdrop predominated. Their distinct Socialist Realist style and explicit propagandist message reflected the overheated political atmosphere of the period.

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