I have been in Shanghai about a week now. It’s a very urban and modern town. That generally means two things for me: things are really expensive and shopping seems to be the primary activity. This is fantastic if you are here on vacation and need custom tailored clothing, I hear it is very cheap. I can’t really fit much more in my backpack though so I’ve not been partaking in much shopping. The most interesting place I’ve been this week has been the Shanghai Propaganda Poster Centre.
You can tell a lot about a culture through their art, which is one reason I enjoy museums so. However, you can tell even more from the propaganda posters of a politically charged country. I was surprised that such a museum existed to show what could be sensitive things in my mind. It was evident very quickly how big the gaps in my knowledge of late century Chinese history are. The posters ended up surprising me because the style, and even the people depicted in them, was so Western to me. Broad jawlines, bold woodcuts, it seems propaganda on both sides of the ocean were more dependent on time period than culture.
I really enjoyed the same style of space age and science theme that ruled American pop culture of the time. The Shanghai Lady inspired art is the most strongly Chinese styled propaganda to me. On the weirder side, I am amused by the rather suggestive looking posters of a strong Russian and strong Chinese man holding onto each for brotherhood. The large collection of rubber Chairman Mao statues is a tad unsettling as they set them all in one place on a wall. The gift shop has a fantastic collection of reprints of their posters, little read Communist books, and a few other antiques of the period. If I was headed back home right now, I’d definitely be lugging some artwork. This slightly hidden museum is definitely worth a stop if you are ever in the area.