Chairman Mao goes to Anyuan
Artist: Liu Chunhua
Publisher: People's Liberation Army Newspaper
Size (mm): 521x766
One of the most famous depictions of Mao Zedong, this poster taken from a 1967 painting by Liu Chunhua shows a youthful Mao marching towards the coal mines of Anyuan in 1922. There he organised a non-violent strike of workers; the strike became known as a pivotal moment in the history of the Chinese Communist Party which had been formed only one year earlier. Many of the miners later enlisted as soldiers in the Red Army. A major purpose of the creation of the painting was to criticise Liu Shaoqi, who had been feted as a major player in the Anyuan workers' strike. Certain elements, including the Red Guards, felt that Mao's position had been underestimated and that his contribution to the historical movement should be more valued.
Liu Chunhua stated later that despite having come from a poor family he and his siblings had all managed to graduate from university, and perhaps as a result of the opportunities afforded to his family after the liberation he had always held very deep feelings for Chairman Mao. Many people have remarked that the portrayal of Mao in this painting borders on the religious, although Liu denies that having been a purpose; rather a consequence of his deeply held beliefs at the time. Whatever the intentions, it so happened that Mao's wife Jiang Qing favoured the work, and selected the painting as a 'model work' of the Cultural Revolution.
One of the defining images of the Cultural Revolution, the poster was said to have been reproduced 900 million times. The painting itself was declared a cultural relic in 1998, and was purchased by China Construction Bank for $660,000.