USC Pacific Asia Museum

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Pasadena, California 91101
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Lichee Box
Lichee Box

China Modern: Designing Popular Culture

August 6, 2010 – February 6, 2011
In the Changing Exhibition Galleries

China Modern: Designing Popular Culture 1910-1970 demonstrates how political ideologies and cultural values are transmitted via everyday objects, with a selection of over 100 iconic pieces. The exhibition focuses on the creation of advertising images, along with commodities, and things made for the modern home in two main periods: 'Cosmopolitan Capitalism: Shanghai Under the Republic, 1910-1949' and 'A Revolution in Culture: Designing the People’s Republic, 1949-1970'.

Viewers will start at the late Qing Dynasty, when there were New Year woodblock prints in every household. From there, they will journey through the streets of Shanghai, the commercial/cultural center of the Republic Era, where western-style modernity was embraced by the elite and started to influence Chinese cinema, music, advertisements, fashion, and publishing.

Next, they will move on to the People's Republic of China and explore how the Communist Party used popular culture as a mean to spread the new ideology and consolidate power. Propaganda posters, plays, and operas were used to promote political campaigns, such as the “Hundred Flowers Campaign” or “The Long March” The campaigns peaked during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), when the image of Chairman Mao could be found everywhere from the Politburo to everyday household items, such as teapots. This section will begin in a town square setting where political slogans and propaganda are mounted. Then, viewers will be invited into a household where day-to-day items, such as eating utensils, appliances, and toys, are displayed.

After learning about these two main periods in 20th century graphic design in China, the exhibition will invite viewers to consider the period from the end of the 1970s to the present. Designers have propelled the known popular vocabulary to a new height: the image of Chairman Mao is no longer used merely to promote political ideology but to promote products, and Shanghai modern beauties have been revived to sell teas, cosmetics, and fashions.

Fusion Fridays

Guest Curator: Kalim Winata

China Modern is made possible, in part, by the Pasadena Arts & Culture Commission and the City of Pasadena Cultural Affairs Division.

Related Events:

August 27, 2010, 7:30-10:30pm

Fusion Fridays - An Evening in 1930’s Shanghai: Be a part of the grand finale of Pasadena’s hottest summertime series as we celebrate in classic Shanghai style. Co-hosted by Asian Professional Exchange and the museum’s Chinese Arts Council, we will be featuring China Modern: Designing Popular Culture 1910–1970.

Cocktail or 1930’s attire. Open bar. $10 members /$15 general admission in advance, $20 at door.

Check out KPCC's coverage of our Inaugural Fusion Friday event on May 14th: KPCC - About Town - Fusion Fridays

August 28, 2010, 2-4pm
Curator's Tour Day:
Two talented guest curators share behind-the-scenes insights on their dynamic exhibitions. First, at 2pm, explore Visualizing Faith: Buddhist Art in Thailand with Melody Rod-Ari

Then check out China Modern: Designing Popular Culture 1910-1970 with Kalim Winata.

August 29, 2010, 4-6pm
Community Partners Family Day Sunday: Celebrating China Modern: Designing Popular Culture 1910-1970! Discover how two dramatically different ideologies – capitalism and communism – are brought to the level of popular culture, with a focus on cosmopolitan Shanghai and Cultural Revolution. Great opportunity to look back at the 20th Century China and appreciate the eternal charm of graphic art!

Docent-led tours, hands-on activity, musical performance by String and Bamboo Music. Chance to win a museum membership! Featuring popular Coolhaus ice-cream sandwiches truck!

Free for museum members. Included with admission for non-members: adults $9, students/ seniors $7, free for children under 12.

2-for-1 admission for community co-presenters’ members and their families! Visitors are welcome all day.
Co-presented by: Asian Business Association, Asia Society of S.C., Chinese American Citizens Alliance GSGV, Chinese Chamber of Commerce, L.A., Peking University Alumni Association of S.C., Roundtable of Chinese American Organizations, Kiangsu-Chekiang-Shanghai Association of USA, String and Bamboo Music