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Chinese Propaganda Posters: From the Collection of Michael Wolf (German Edition) (German) Paperback – July, 2003

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 319 pages
  • Publisher: Taschen (July 2003)
  • Language: German
  • ISBN-10: 3822826197
  • ISBN-13: 978-3822826195
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 1.1 x 14.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,040,268 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

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

From the Publisher

The Communist superhero

With his smooth, warm, red face which radiated light in all directions, Chairman Mao Zedong was a fixture in Chinese propaganda posters produced between the birth of the People’s Republic in 1949 and the early 1980s.

These infamous posters were, in turn, central fixtures in Chinese homes, railway stations, schools, journals, magazines, and just about anywhere else where people were likely to see them. Chairman Mao, portrayed as a stoic superhero (a.k.a. the Great Teacher, the Great Leader, the Great Helmsman, the Supreme Commander), appeared in all kinds of situations (inspecting factories, smoking a cigarette with peasant workers, standing by the Yangzi River in a bathrobe, presiding over the bow of a ship, or floating over a sea of red flags), flanked by strong, healthy, ageless men and "masculinized" women and children wearing baggy, sexless, drab clothing.

The goal of each poster was to show the Chinese people what sort of behavior was considered morally correct and how great the future of Communist China would be if everyone followed the same path toward utopia by uniting together. Combining fact and fiction in a way typical of propaganda art, these posters exuded positive vibes and seemed to suggest that Mao was an omnipresent force that would accompany China to happiness and greatness.

This book brings together a selection of colorful propaganda artworks and cultural artifacts from photographer Michael Wolf’s vast collection of Chinese propaganda posters, many of which are now extremely rare.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Robin Benson on November 27, 2003
Format: Paperback
Michael Wolf collected the hundreds of posters shown in this sumptuous book and it occurred to me while looking through the pages that the originals have probably been seen by more people than any others in the world. They were stuck up in every public place (including homes) and published in magazines. Predictably many of them show Chairman Mao, the Great Leader, Teacher, Helmsman, Commander urging the masses forward with the wise fertiliser of his thoughts. To reinforce greatness artists were not allowed to paint figures above his head.

The posters are organised according to the thirty-three chapters in Mao's Little Red Book. Chapter twenty-three, Investigation and Study, has some interesting images including an 1981 painting of various jet aircraft and one from 1978 showing two open hands encasing a stylised atomic graphic. Not all Chinese posters just show peasants looking to the future.

I was surprised to see some quite creative painting styles, for instance, Chao Deren has a brush stroke style similar to the best of the European movie poster artists, Deng Xiu and Zhang Ruiheng could easily have been doing fiction illustrations in the American consumer magazines of the fifties and sixties. Perhaps the strangest poster paintings are those of babies and children, the faces are all rather plump and adult looking, as if the artists imagined this was how a baby Mao looked

This large 320 page book is beautifully designed and printed and if you are interested in political posters or colorful graphics you'll enjoy it. BTW, Taschen have been rather naughty by replacing the head of a child, in one poster, with a head icon they use as a competition promotion. It doesn't spoil the book for me but I thought it rather unnecessary.

***FOR AN INSIDE LOOK click 'customer images' under the cover.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Adam Kruvand on December 8, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a great book. So many images. I was expecting mostly communist propaganda posters, and a lot of the same message in similar style over and over - but there is so much more. In fact most of the images are more art or paintings than posters. Tons of images - and notice - 14.5" - this book is HUGE! Another good source book by Taschen.
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3 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ssenjobe Art on September 30, 2005
Format: Paperback
I saw the list of other similiar items. But there's one more you should consider if you really like the genre. "Carteles de la Guerra: 1936-1939" (Posters of the (Spanish Civil) War) is a collection of mostly socialist and anarchist posters from the brutal civil war that engulfed Spain before the true outbreak of WWII.
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