So, today is Labor Day in the U.S.A., which means that you can celebrate the achievements of the working class without being a Communist. The rest of the world, including China, celebrates on May 1st, but American images of labor have been imported to China in the past. Over the summer I looked into some of the issues of 工合画刊, the illustrated journal of the Co-operative movement in China. Although not enough scholarly work has been done on the movement, it is usually associated with Rewi Alley’s attempts to bring knowledge of western industrial techniques to China. Apparently they also brought techniques of illustration, since a lot of their stuff seems to borrow from western techniques.
This guy, who is calling for the people of the Northwest to produce more stuff might have come from Madrid, and the composition seems western to me as well, although I’m not a good enough illustrator to explain why.
This guy (and they are all guys) might have come from an American propaganda poster of an evil Japanese, showing how thoroughly Chinese artists were borrowing American conventions.
The two that I found most striking were the Son of Vulcan
and, most impressive of all, John Henry
I guess what I like best about him is that he seems not only confident in his own power, but confident that this will be accepted. He looks innocent but not naive. Needless to say, this type of image did not become common in China, but it is nice to see it there.