CHINESE PROPAGANDA; Vietnam War.

¡El Pueblo Vietnamita Triunfará! ¡Los Agresores Yanqui Fracasarán! (The Vietnamese People Will Triumph! The Yank Aggressors Will Fail!)

Seleccion de Obras Realizadas por los Artistas Chinos y Llevadas a Cabo por Ellos en Apoyo del Pueblo Vietnamita en su Lucha Contra el Imperialismo Yanqui. (A Selection of Artworks Made by Chinese Artists in Solidarity with the Vietnamese People in their Fight Against Yank Imperialism.)

Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1966 Stock Code: 149911
£225.00
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An uncommon and richly illustrated window into Cold War politics

First edition in Spanish, first impression, with a pleasing Cold War provenance, of this uncommon work, a collection of artworks attacking the American presence in Vietnam, which encapsulates the intensity of Cold War-era geopolitical relations between China, the United States, and the Soviet Union.

After ideological disputes and the public souring of relations between Beijing and Moscow in the early 1960s, Mao Zedong and the other senior leaders of the Chinese Communist Party sought to position China as part of a "non-aligned" group of countries resistant to all forms of Cold War-era imperialism, whether perpetrated in the name of American freedom or Soviet socialism. In this context, Beijing was vocally hostile to America's involvement in the Vietnam War in order to both maintain its ideological opposition to Washington and to show that it, rather than the Kremlin, served as the true voice of worldwide anti-Americanism.

To display China's anti-imperialist credentials to the world, editors from the Foreign Languages Press selected some of the best anti-American propaganda images produced by Chinese artists in the 1960s. By this point, a network of state-sponsored art academies and organisations provided a steady stream of artists capable of adapting various media and artistic genres to the state's political needs, with a sophisticated cultural bureaucracy choosing the very best works for broader dissemination in poster and book form. The present collection was issued in a number of translations including English, Russian, and this uncommon Spanish edition.

The dozens of artworks selected for inclusion encompass the full-range of Chinese propaganda art styles practised in the People's Republic of China at the time. Woodcuts, oil paintings and cartoons meld long-established media with tropes of socialist realist imagery including intense expressions and extravagant gestures. Also included are pencil studies, sculptures, and posters with bold calligraphic text. To set the tone, the volume opens with a painting of Ho Chi Minh looking out over a sea of red flags with his fist raised - an image markedly similar to the countless depictions of Chairman Mao that would be produced in China during the Cultural Revolution. The striking anti-Americanism and pro-Vietcong stance on display in the present work is more remarkable considering developments in international relations after the book's publication. Only six years later, President Nixon travelled to China to begin rapprochement between Washington and Beijing. Equally as dramatically, by 1978 China itself was at war with Vietnam, with all talk of Sino-Vietnamese friendship now discarded.

Though not marked as such, the present copy is from the library of Paul Pickowicz (b. 1945), a notable historian of modern Chinese culture and society. Pickowicz was one of a number of scholars who, in the late 1960s, founded the Committee of Concerned Asia Scholars to oppose American deployment in Vietnam and to improve relations between Washington and Beijing. The group's left-wing leanings and opposition to American expansionism precipitated a formal invitation from the Chinese government for 15 members, including Pickowicz, to visit China in mid-1971. The 1971 visit, the first time American scholars had set foot in Mao's China, is now regarded as an important step towards the normalisation of relations between Beijing and Washington over the 1970s.

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Description

Quarto. Original pictorial wrappers.

Illustrations

Title page with a vignette of a soldier standing on an American "running dog", vibrant colour and black-and-white illustrations throughout.

Condition

Dust jacket a little nicked and rubbed, notably bright, faint foxing to wrappers and first and last leaves, illustrations clean and sharp. A very good copy indeed of this fragile publication.

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