poster art and artists


poster art and artists
In the twenty-first century, propaganda posters are fighting an up-hill battle to reach the people. The Party’s posters no longer serve as important sources of information, and must compete with a flood of messages and images put out by a plethora of media. People generally consider posters old-fashioned, or too tainted by their earlier political usage, even though their subject matter has been brought in line with the rapidly changing times, social circumstances and popular taste. The declining number of poster titles published yearly indicates the loss of credibility and appeal. The introduction of state-of-the-art printing techniques and the use of thick glossy paper of good quality, or even plastic sheeting, has updated the look and the feel of the posters considerably, but this has not resulted in greater sales. A diversified market approach, which directs different types of propaganda contents at specific social groups, has largely failed. Only primary and secondary school students are still specifically targeted with educational propaganda (see posters and education), stressing elements of socialist spiritual civilization and patriotism. With popular interest in politics low, many ignore the Party’s utterances and appear to be more worried about the size of their pay packets and the question whether they’ll still be employed in the future.
The decline in the relevance of propaganda posters started in the early 1980s. Under Deng Xiaoping, alternative modes of creation were allowed, replacing the dominant style of Socialist Realism. The Open Door policy enabled artists and designers to reacquaint themselves with various artistic trends and developments abroad. The introduction of advertising in the print and broadcast media, and of many foreign television programmes, inspired artists and designers to borrow or emulate design techniques from the West and from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan. As a result, propaganda poster themes became less heroic and militant, and more impressionistic. Slogans no longer called for mobilization but for economic reform, and had a less strident and aggressive tone. Abstract images replaced realism and more subdued colours replaced the bold hues. Westernized elements of modernity crept in, and female representations increasingly favoured a Eurasian rather than Chinese look.
In an attempt to give propaganda posters an aura of modernity, photography and photo-montage were introduced in the late 1980s. Photography was not favoured for propaganda purposes before, as it was considered a mere craft, without artistic potential. The popularity of the two techniques was related to developments external to the art world. First, photography had become one of the many new status symbols and one of the essential activities in urban life under reform. Once photography thus had entered the cultural mainstream, consumers demanded photographic images to replace the idealized and often simplistic realism that had prevailed before. The manipulation of photographic images was greatly facilitated by the proliferation of personal computers. Electronic manipulation of (parts of) photographs did away with old-fashioned methods of manual clipping and pasting, leading to more sophisticated results. Advertising companies led the way in applying these advanced techniques, which inevitably impacted on propaganda poster design.
But whether modernized in form and content or not, the Reform-era posters all lack conviction and strength. One of the main reasons is that they are designed to gently nudge people into the desired direction of thought and behaviour, and not to rouse the target group(s) into action. Another explanation can be found in the quality of the artwork. Artists and designers are no longer seen as the Party’s ‘spin doctors’, a role they played during the heyday of poster production, and have lost considerable occupational status. The artists of old all have retired; the prolific designer He Qiongwen (b. 1925), for example, designed his last, unpublished, poster in 1991. Truly gifted young designers and artists now have more opportunities to market their works, and no longer feel compelled to work for the Party. A commercial art sector has come into being that is not dominated by the Party-state, and advertising agencies can offer higher incomes and more artistic freedom. As a result, the propaganda departments are left with artistic talent that can be considered capable, but second-string.
Propaganda posters continue to be part of the government’s communication strategy, but television has become the medium to present propaganda by broadcasting highly sophisticated, extremely well-made forms of political advertising (see Party advertising and self-promotion). These political messages support general propaganda themes, stressing the central, and historically inevitable role of the Party in China’s development or ethnic unity. In subtle ways, the Chinese are thus confronted with a type of propaganda that is very difficult to identify as such at first sight.
Donald, Stephanie and Evans, Harriet (eds) (1999). Picturing Power in the People’s Republic of China: Posters of the Cultural Revolution. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.
Landsberger, Stefan R. (1995, 1998, 2001). Chinese Propaganda Posters—From Revolution to Moderniza-tion. Amsterdam/Armonk: Pepin Press/M.E. Sharpe.
——(nd) Stefan Landsberger’s Chinese Propaganda Poster Pages. Available at http://www.iisg.nl/poster art and artistslandsberger/
STEFAN LANDSBERGER

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Street poster art — is a kind of graffiti made up of graphics on newspaper thin paper. It explores attributes (like languages and/or techniques) of the traditional poster. It can be understood as an art piece that is pasted on the streets, but by some, it is not… …   Wikipedia

  • Monmouth University Department of Art and Design — Monmouth University s Department of Art and Design, located on Monmouth University campus in West Long Branch, New Jersey, offers several undergraduate degrees.[1] Contents 1 Degrees 2 Exhibitions 3 Facilities …   Wikipedia

  • Art competitions at the Olympic Games — Art competitions formed part of the modern Olympic Games during its early years, from 1912 to 1948. The competitions were part of the original intention of the Olympic Movement s founder, Pierre de Frédy, Baron de Coubertin. Medals were awarded… …   Wikipedia

  • Art, Antiques, and Collections — ▪ 2003 Introduction       In 2002 major exhibitions such as Documenta 11 reflected the diverse nature of contemporary art: artists from a variety of cultures received widespread recognition for work ranging from installation to video to painting …   Universalium

  • Poster — A poster is any piece of printed paper designed to be attached to a wall or vertical surface. Typically posters include both textual and graphic elements, although a poster may be either wholly graphical or wholly textual. Posters are designed to …   Wikipedia

  • Art Nouveau — Staircase of the Maison Atelier of Victor Horta. This building is one of four Horta designed town houses in Brussels that are together recognised by UNESCO as representing the highest expression of the influential Art Nouveau style in art and… …   Wikipedia

  • poster — poster1 /poh steuhr/, n. 1. a placard or bill posted or intended for posting in a public place, as for advertising. 2. a person who posts bills, placards, etc. [1830 40; POST1 + ER1] poster2 /poh steuhr/, n. 1. See post horse …   Universalium

  • Art Deco — The art deco spire of the Chrysler Building in New York, built 1928–1930 …   Wikipedia

  • Art Workers' Coalition — The Art Workers Coalition (AWC) was an open coalition of artists, filmmakers, writers, critics, and museum staff that formed in New York City in January 1969. Its principal aim was to pressure the city s museums – notably the Museum of Modern Art …   Wikipedia

  • Art car — An art car is a vehicle that has its appearance modified as an act of personal artistic expression. Art car artists usually drive and own their own work. They are sometimes referred to as Cartists . Art car artists or owners often dress in a… …   Wikipedia