The Chinese Culture Center is pleased to present the first exhibition of vintage Shanghai posters in North America. These relics of Shanghai’s Western influenced glamour period enjoyed great popularity, which can be directly related to the birth of capitalism and early industrialism in China. Rapid development of the Chinese economy during the early decades of the 20th century made this period the golden age of Chinese poster art. The beautiful ladies depicted in rich and vibrant imaging, corresponded to the nascent middle class aspirations of an increasingly Westernized China’s urban citizens.
Shanghai was China’s first great modern city. Known as the
“Paris of the East” in the early 20th century, Shanghai quickly
became the center of China’s banking and commercial enterprises,
the country’s greatest commercial port. The movie industry was
also centered there, as were all the great artists and intellectuals,
and in addition, the early advertising and graphic studios.
Foreign merchants turned to native artists to produce the paintings for their advertisements. As physical beauty has always commanded attention, in the design of the posters the advertised commodities became secondary to the beautiful lady represented. The actual commodities were often inconspicuously placed on the side or outside image frame.