Painting the world Red

February 4 through February 28, 2011

 
[Image Description: A white border with bold, red Chinese characters at the bottom surround an image of two men gazing outward. The man in the foreground wears a blue jumpsuit and military hat, and holds a machine gun. Behind him, a man in a white shirt, with a net carrying a grenade slung over his shoulder, holds a gun in one hand and a flagpole in the other. The red flag billows in the wind behind the man’s head. In the upper left corner of the image is a phrase in yellow Chinese characters followed by an exclamation mark.]

[Image Description: A white border with bold, red Chinese characters at the bottom surround an image of two men gazing outward. The man in the foreground wears a blue jumpsuit and military hat, and holds a machine gun. Behind him, a man in a white shirt, with a net carrying a grenade slung over his shoulder, holds a gun in one hand and a flagpole in the other. The red flag billows in the wind behind the man’s head. In the upper left corner of the image is a phrase in yellow Chinese characters followed by an exclamation mark.]

 

If all times and places have a particular art form associated with them, Burtt Ehrlich noted, “Chinese propaganda posters were the art of their age.” The 8th Floor is pleased to present Painting the World Red, an exhibition of over 40 posters from the private collection of Burtt Ehrlich. Curated by Benno Weiner, PhD candidate in History at Columbia University, Painting the World Red will run February 4th-28th, 2011.

Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China (1949), propaganda posters have been an inseparable part of Chinese daily life. Produced by some of the leading artists of their time, their purpose was to educate, mobilize and inspire a largely illiterate population. Although working within a mandate to depict the world not as it was but “as it ought to be,” these artists created original works of art that stand among the most important Chinese cultural productions of their era.

On a trip to Shanghai five years ago, Ehrlich first became interested in these images. Initially attracted by the political content, in particular the anti-American, anti-imperialist imagery displayed in many of the posters, he began his collection. This eventually brought him to Yang Peiming, founder of the Shanghai Propaganda Poster Centre and leading expert on the subject. With Yang’s help, over the next several years Mr. Ehrlich would go on to acquire what is believed to be the largest and most wide-ranging collection of Mao-era propaganda posters in the United States. In addition to posters from Ehrlich’s collection, the exhibit includes items generously loaned from the personal collection of Mike Ungaro.

Press Release