“It’s a Wonderful Life”: Nianhua and Yuefenpai
at the Dawn of the People’s Republic

By James Flath

Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, vol. 16, no. 2 (Fall 2004), pp. 123-59

In the spring of 1950, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) issued its first national call for visual propaganda in the form of “new nianhua” and “new yuefenpai.” These genres were to reflect the existing forms of nianhua (New Year’s pictures) and yuefenpai (calendar posters), but the new forms were to be infused with politically conscious themes and graphic techniques determined by CCP arts administrators. The subsequent debates over the appropriate nature of “new nianhua” and new yuefenpai” became central to the development of standards for propaganda art, and would have continuing implications for Chinese graphic arts throughout the early 1950s.