“Speed Up Agriculture Using Modern Machinery.” 1971.

In 1966 Mao Zedong, the Communist leader of China, started a political campaign that became known as the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). Mao called on China’s youth to help him purge capitalist influences and bourgeois thinking in government, teaching, the media and arts, and to reinvigorate the revolutionary spirit.

Calling themselves The Red Guards, radical students set out to destroy the “four olds”: old ideas, customs, habits and culture. They spearheaded the interrogation, humiliation and beatings of teachers and intellectuals, and traveled the country destroying cultural heritage. During the Cultural Revolution traditional artists were condemned as counter-revolutionaries and their work destroyed. A new style of art was required that supported the Maoist line and served the worker, peasant and soldier.

The decade was marked by purges and power struggles at the upper echelons of government, and the mobilization of masses of young people to enforce Maoist thought. One of the primary vessels for disseminating instructions and models of behavior was propaganda art. Vivid posters were created to inspire citizens to put forth their labor towards agriculture, industry and national defense, as well as concerns such as hygiene and family planning.

Slogans are often used alongside imagery in posters, usually written in bold, Chinese script. They include pro-revolution messages about “working hard”, “uniting for victory” and “working towards the general communist goal. “Bright” colors are used in many of the posters and red appears a lot as it is the color of communism and revolution. Much of the work that came out of the Cultural Revolution is attributed to committees or groups, rather than individuals. Thousands of copies of the posters were printed and sold cheaply as the establishment at the time wanted the posters to be something that everyone should have on their walls at home. Many of the posters were painted by hand and then printed as lithographs, a process involving using stone, oil and chemicals to create prints.

“Fully criticize the Chinese Khrushchev from a political, ideological, and theoretical perspective.” 1967.

“Greet the 1970s with the new victories of revolution and production.” 1970.

“Produce More Coal and Support the Socialist Construction.” c. 1970.

“Never Tire of Training to Destroy The Enemy.” c. 1970.

“Grow Strongly Under the Broad Sky and Earth.” c. 1970.

“Protect the Forest.” c. 1970.

“Prepare for Struggle, Prepare for Famine, Work for the People.” c. 1970.

“If You Want to Prosper, You Must Control The Population.” c. 1970.

“Prevent Hepatitis by Washing.” c. 1970.

“Learn Science, Build The Country.” c. 1970.

“Set a Good Example, Fight Corruption.” c. 1970.

“Teach the Younger Generation.” c. 1970.

“Go to the Big Ocean To Exercise.” c. 1970.

“Let Mao’s Philosophy Be Our Strongest Weapon.” c. 1970.

“The Cadre Should Mix With the Workers.” c. 1970.

“Be Prepared Now.” c. 1970.

“Be on Guard, 100 Times Alert.” c. 1970.

“Celebrate the 9th Congress of the Industrial Union.” c. 1960.

“Learning Dai Qi by Making More Contributions!” c. 1970.

“Annihilate the Invading Enemy.” c. 1970.

“Grasp Revolution, Promote Production.” 1976.

“Enhance the Coastal Defense of the Motherland.” 1962.

“Shipyard Industry Workers Learn From Da Qing.” 1976.

“Pay Attention to Hygiene.” c. 1970.

“Fruits and Melons That are Eaten Raw Must be Washed Properly.” c. 1975.

A depiction of Dong Cunrui, who sacrificed his own life in 1949 during the Chinese Civil War while detonating explosives in an enemy bunker. c. 1960.

A depiction of Dong Cunrui, who sacrificed his own life in 1949 during the Chinese Civil War while detonating explosives in an enemy bunker. c. 1960.

“Follow the Constitution to Achieve Greater Industrial Victory.” c. 1970.

“Have the Whole Country in Mind and Have the Whole World in View.” c. 1970.

“Win Honor For Our Socialist Country, Win Honor For Our Great Leader Chairman Mao.” c. 1970.

“American Imperialism Must Be Driven Out of Southern Vietnam!” c. 1970.

“Strive to Collect Scrap Metal and Other Waste Materials!” c. 1970.

“Vigilance, Defend the Motherland!” 1968.

(Photo credit: David Pollack / Corbis via Getty Images).