Drawing on the British Museum’s wide-ranging collection, this thought-provoking catalogue provides a contextual survey of political art across Asia, covering the period from approximately 1900 to 1976, ending with Cultural Revolution and Mao’s death and the end of the Vietnam War.
Over 100 works of art from China, Japan, Vietnam, Korea, India and other countries are featured, including posters, prints, cartoons, calligraphy, ceramics, papercuts, textiles, panels, badges, coins and medals.
Through these powerful images, designed to move hearts and minds, the author explores the themes of propaganda in daily life, heroes and villains, the use of the past, symbolism, dissent and revolutionary inspirations.
Published to complement an exhibition at the British Museum from 30 May – 1 September 2013.
Mary Ginsberg is a guest curator at the British Museum, specialising in Chinese art.
More about Asian propaganda
‘ The peasant, like the workers in their mass, think much more in terms of images than abstract formulas; and visual illustration, even when a high level of literacy is reached, will always play a major role for the peasant.’
Nadezhda Krupskaia (wife of Lenin), 1923
In revolutionary and wartime societies, propaganda is considered a vital part of education and political participation. Propaganda encourages or condemns; reinforces existing attitudes and behaviour; promotes social membership within nation, class or work unit. Where political transformation (communist revolution, end of colonial rule) has occurred before widespread modernization, with the majority population illiterate, art was the most effective way to communicate the message.