This section presents a highly-abbreviated summary of the styles and subject matter of Chinese printmaking since 1949. From the founding of the PRC until after the Cultural Revolution, nearly all art, whatever style or format, was produced in the service of the new society. Prints promoted the Party, the people, the revolution and a continual flow of specific political, social and economic campaigns.
Art in the post-Mao era has been much less explicitly political, both quantitatively and aesthetically. Personal expression has returned. The same types of subjects as before are depicted—landscapes, figures, village gatherings, work and leisure—but through individual eyes. Scenes are intimate and life-size, rather than grandiose. There is great interest in Chinese history and traditional culture, offered in newly-imagined ways. An important feature is the development of regional schools of printmaking with their distinctive styles, notably the Great Northern Wilderness and Yunnan Schools.
Not everyone is shown to be happy. The second part of this section offers some social and political commentary on contemporary China. Crowding, industrialization and consumerism are common and politically acceptable themes.