AAH-194 Visual Culture in Communist China

A Union College Art History Course, Spring 2023

Author: Peter Valerio

Visual Analysis of 1 Work Propaganda Posters

My first artwork is Chairman Mao Visits a Homemade Blast Furnace designed by Zhou Xuefen and Yin Quanyuan.  It was created in November of 1958 and depicts Mao Zedong the then Chairman of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) watching some people use a homemade furnace.  This piece was created for the Communist Party during the first year of the Great Leap Forward, a plan to increase industry and agriculture to hopefully compete with Great Britain.  Homemade blast furnaces were utilized during the Great Leap Forward to smelt metal in peoples homes for steel.  In this image Mao is seen as an everyman who like everyone else is helping to smelt objects down for steel.  This can be personified by the slacks and being close to the workers.  This image is also shows hard work from by the sweat rags around two peoples neck and the smoke coming from the furnace.  These ideas of heat and sweat are a symbol of hard work. This work also goes to show Mao as a cult of personality with the crowd of people behind him staring and are seemingly amazed by his hard work.  One of the reasons for the Great Leap Forward is the idea of keeping up with the western powers so one of the details in the image is the graph that show significant increases.  This goes to show how successful the Great Leap Forward is even if the graph growth is not happening in the real world this piece of propaganda will make it seem like smelting is good for the economy and therefore China.  We know now that the homemade smelting of personal items never really increased the progress of China.  The cartoonist imagery makes it easy to digest for an average person and will get them to support the CCP just like Mao is doing.  While this image may depict a thing Mao actually did it may exaggerate how much he did.

Works Citied

Quanyuan Yin, & Xuefen Zhou (1958). Chairman Mao Visits a Homemade Blast Furnace. Chineseposters.net. Retrieved April 24, 2023, from https://chineseposters.net/posters/pc-1958-007

J., Andrews (2012). The art of modern China. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/2027/heb32156.0001.001.

M., Chiu, & S. T., Zheng (2009). Art and China’s revolution. Asia Society.

Chinese Propaganda

Propaganda in China was widely used as a tool for the people in power to make themselves and their beliefs look better and there by making more of the populace support what they want.  Propaganda was used by the CCP and the KMT during the Chinese Civil war and was used during the Second Sino-Japanese War to invoke patriotism to the Chinese people.  During the creation of the Communist China and in the years that followed propaganda was used to show the western nations in a more negative light and show the success of their own programs.  The image I chose was of the Long March this is supposed to inspire the people and make them support the Communist movement.



Landsberger, S. R. (n.d.). The Long March (1934-1935). Chineseposters.net. Retrieved April 10, 2023, from https://chineseposters.net/themes/long-march

McCarty, M. (n.d.). The historical roots of Chinese Communist propaganda – Baylor University. Baylor. Retrieved April 12, 2023, from https://www.baylor.edu/content/services/document.php?id=19565

Peter Valerio

My name is Peter Valerio but most people call me Mikey.  I was born in Raleigh, North Carolina and moved overseas when I was in elementary school.  I’ve lived in Seoul and Shanghai most of my life.  I am a Political Science major and a Film minor.  I enjoy watching films and tv shows as well as swim.  I am not very knowledgeable on art history but as a political science major I am very interested in the history of modern China.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén

Skip to toolbar