The Sleeping Giant: Posters & The Chinese Economy

February 27–August 23, 2020

The Sleeping Giant: Posters & The Chinese Economy explores China’s economic relationship with the world through poster design.

By the 20th century, Western powers had already forced their way into the Chinese market. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, foreign and local companies rapidly expanded their commercial activities in China and experimented with Western marketing ideas. The most popular posters, called yuefenpai (calendar posters), were a marketing sensation and became key publicity tools to promote everyday products including cigarettes, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals.

In 1949, with the establishment of the People’s Republic under Mao Zedong, public posters made a stark turn towards Socialist Realism. Later in the 1980s and 90s, Chinese graphic design embraced a more internationally modern look as globalism brought the far reaches of the world together.

  • Curator
  • Steffi Ibis Duarte
    Marc H. Choko
  • Exhibition Design
  • The Graphics Office
  • Located
  • Main Gallery
  • Visitor Information
  • Allot approximately 1 hour
  • Parental Guidance
  • This exhibition is rated G
  • Share this Exhibition

Thank You

This collection comes to Poster House through generous loans from Marc H. Choko, Merrill C. Berman, Oded Boldo, the Chisholm Larsson Gallery, Philip Williams, Battledore Limited, and others.

Selected Artworks


Brunner Mond & Co. Ammonium Sulphate by Zhou Baisheng , 1930


Crosfield’s Umbrella Soap by Zheng Mantuo, 1925


The Rat Cigarettes by Xie Zhiguang, 1938


“Sisters” Meeting of all Regions for the National Heroes Conference by Li Mubai & Jin Xuechen, 1964


Cultural Revolution Glows by Yang Jiabao & Cai Sheng, 1972


Carry Out People’s War Against Lin Biao and Confucius by Zhang Ruji & Wang Jiao , 1974


Communication International Poster Exhibition by Chen Shaohua, 1996


20th Century Chinese Design Exhibition/Past and Future by Zhang Qing, 1998

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