China’s use of advertising images as well as graphic and product design to shape its political ideologies and cultural values in the 20th century is the focus of “China Modern: Designing 20th Century Popular Culture,” a new exhibit opening at the Fullerton Museum Center, Saturday, April 14.
An opening reception will be held from 6-9 p.m. on the 14th, and will feature tours of the exhibit, a curator’s talk, refreshments and live entertainment.
Featuring more than 170 objects, the exhibit brings two contrasting 20th century ideologies - capitalism and communism - to the level of popular culture. The exhibit shows how, despite vastly different goals, the means of instilling these values was often strikingly similar.
Objects displayed in “China Modern” include lychee and cigarette boxes, children’s toys, an extensive collection of product labels and advertisements, and communist propaganda from the rule of Mao Zedong.
Intricately detailed wood block prints and lithographs showcase the high quality craftsmanship of Chinese print designers and artisans.
The exhibit consists of four sections. “A Graphic Tradition: Popular Design from Late Qing to Early Republic” serves as a prologue to the exhibit and features early New Year’s Day prints and imagery of household gods.
The second section, “Cosmopolitan Capitalism: Shanghai under the Republic,” examines a range of materials, from product packaging to film ads, illustrating the commercial practices of pre-Revolutionary China.
“A Revolution in Culture: Designing the People’s Republic” focuses on household goods, advertising and propaganda materials.
The final section, “The Aesthetics of Nostalgia,” demonstrates the ongoing impact of these embodiments of China’s graphic culture today.
The exhibit was developed by the Pacific Asia Museum of Pasadena, CA, one of only four U.S. institutions dedicated to the arts and culture of Asia. The tour was organized by International Arts & Artists of Washington, DC, a nonprofit arts service organization dedicated to increasing cross-cultural understanding and exposure to the arts internationally.
The exhibit was curated by Kalim Winata, an independent scholar specializing in print and popular cultures of the 20th century, with a focus on Asia. Earning a master of fine arts degree from the Academy of Art, Winata worked closely with collector Reed Darmon to produce “Made in China,” the book which first inspired the exhibit.
The exhibit will run through July 1.
Admission to the opening reception will be $10 for the general public and free to museum members.
The Fullerton Museum Center is located at 301 N. Pomona Ave., east of Harbor Blvd., in downtown Fullerton. Hours are noon-4 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday and Friday-Sunday, and noon-8 p.m. Thursday.
Museum admission is $4 for adults, $3 for students with student identification and senior citizens 65 and older, $1 for children 6 to 12, and free to children under 5 and to members of the Fullerton Museum Center. Admission is $2 for all visitors from 4-8 p.m. the first Thursday of each month.
Further information about exhibit or related programs may be obtained by calling the Fullerton Museum Center at (714) 738-6545.
Persons requiring special accommodations to view the exhibit or attend the preview are asked to notify the museum staff prior to coming to the Museum Center.