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Art Terms

Chinese commercial advertising poster

Seduction of the Modernity

With the formation of the Republic of China in 1911, capitalism and modernization grew in the big cities such as Shanghai and British controlled Hong Kong. Advertising poster production used the lithograph and offset methods newly imported from the West with which up to 4,000 copies would be printed from a single design targeting the urban masses. Designs drew upon historical Chinese events with great wit and resourcefulness, but it is their exploitation of the iconic young and attractive ‘modern girl’ image that gained huge popularity. A range of products, though probably most famously tobacco, were advertised this way. Collections of posters used throughout the year compiled as calendars to distribute to clients eventually gave way to publishing collections of these young girls for general sale. While obviously alluring to a male audience, the modern fashions and elegant lifestyle suggested in the images also appealed to a female audience, effectively drawing on dreams of a brighter new era.


Hang Zhiying / Zhiying studio "Calendar Poster for Wuzhou Pharmacy" 1920―30s offset on paper

Hang Zhiying / Zhiying studio "Calendar Poster for Huacheng Tobacco Co." 1920―30s offset on paper

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