Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Spring 2014

Department 1



The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution period of the People’s Republic of China (1966-1976) was crucial in the creation of modern-day China. The material culture of that period mirrors the turbulent political activity of students and the directives of the Communist Party’s central leadership during the height of the Mao Zedong personality cult. The commercial manufacture of posters, often the sole decoration available for the public and private spheres, offers strong examples of the design style of this time. The posters are not only indicative of the propagandistic fervor of production, but the aesthetic changes initiated in the visual and performing arts during the period as the state consciously manipulated style in an effort to create a “people’s” art and envision a Marxist utopia. This paper suggests that a comprehension of folk arts and popular culture is essential for understanding the visual language of this specific geographic and political space. A new perspective on the reconciliation of reality and ideology during the Cultural Revolution is gained through an analysis of popular form and content, and reveals not only the basis of a modern mass culture, but the unprecedented unification of high and low art forms.


Senior Art History Project

The booklet of all Senior Art & Art History projects is available here.