The art of influence
30 May – 1 September 2013
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Explore the political art of Asia, uncover its lighter and darker shades, and discover the dynamics of the histories and cultures that created these striking works.
Covering the period 1900 to 1976, this exhibition presents a selection of the British Museum’s rich collections of unpublished and rarely seen political art from Asia.
Posters, prints and drawings, money and medals, teapots, textiles and other objects show how propaganda art reflects – and is shaped by – the political, social and economic circumstances of its production. Through these objects, the exhibition sheds new light on propaganda's collaborative and coercive aspects. Its distinctive ability to build nations, defy enemies, construct identities, change minds and educate populations paints a complex picture made from more than just lies and manipulation.
From the first breaths of revolution against imperial forces to Mao’s death and the conclusion of the Vietnam War, the exhibition will place political art in multiple contexts across the continent. The show is divided into five sections that explore early revolutionary messages (1900–1930), the Asia-Pacific War (1931–1945), post-war reconstruction (post-1945), new society (up to 1976), and key propaganda devices, such as the use or subversion of tradition and the insertion of propaganda into daily life. From a 1904 humorous Japanese print portraying the Russian navy as a limping fish to anti-American and anti-Churchill posters, the highly diverse and frequently arresting images reveal art as an agent of political culture.
Nguyen Cong Do (b. 1930), original artwork for poster Tat Ca Vi Hoa Binh (All for the sake of Peace) (detail). Gouache on paper, 1972
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