1958 'Study the Soviet Union, to advance to the world level of science'


Reprint poster

Great Leap Forward (1956-1960)

After the successful economic reconstruction of the early 1950s, the Party leadership headed by Mao Zedong considers the conditions ripe for a Great Leap Forward in early 1958. The Chinese people are to go all out in an effort to surpass England in 15 (or even fewer) years and to make the transition from socialism to communism at the same time. The production of steel is considered of the highest importance. All over the country, small furnaces are built. In the countryside, huge people's communes are formed. Life there is completely collectivized, including mess halls serving free food. By early 1959, it becomes clear that the campaign is a failure and that a catastrophe is at hand. In the famine of following years, thirty to forty million people die.

The airplane pictured is a typical 1950s technological fantasy. It seems to be meant as a passenger plane, circling the earth outside of the atmosphere. The space race between the West and the East is in full swing in the late 1950s, with the East (the Soviet Union) in the lead. China is just starting its own satellite projects.

Designer: Li Lang (李浪)
1958, August
Study the Soviet Union, to advance to the world level of science
Xuexi Sulian, xiang shijie kexue shuizhun jinjun (学习苏联, 向世界科学水准进军)
Publisher: Shanghai renmin meishu chubanshe (上海人民美术出版社)
Size: 53x76 cm.
Call number: BG E15/427 (Landsberger collection)

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