Wang Guangmei (1921-2006)

The Cultural Revolution in Images -- Caricature-Posters from Guangzhou 1966-1977

Wang Guangmei 王光美 (1921-2006) was Liu Shaoqi’s wife and a staff member of the CCP Central Committee Office (MacFarquahar and Shoenhals, 2006: 473). The criticism of the caricature-posters is based on two events of Wang Guangmei’s life: her works in Taoyuan and her visit to Indonesia. In 1963, in the context of the Four Clean-Ups Movement, Wang Guangmei worked for two months in Hebei Province, where she transformed the Taoyuan Production Brigade into a model brigade. She later wrote a report on this experience entitled The Taoyuan Experience, which later became the base for Liu Shaoqi’s “Policies and Regulations for the Socialist Education Movement in the Countryside.” Her work was criticized as anti-revolutionary during the Cultural Revolution (Lee and Stefanowska, 2003: 530). Another recurring iconographic feature of Wang Guangmei’s caricatures is her clothing. In the posters, she always wears a qipao, a necklace, and a hat, the outfit she wore for an official trip in Indonesia in 1963. In 1968, she was criticized for wearing this ensemble, considered too feminine and luxurious for a revolutionary member of the CCP. For this reason, in the same year during the Red Guards’ rallies against her, she was paraded in Tsinghua University wearing a qipao and a fake necklace made of ping-pong balls.

Reference:

Lee, Lily Xiao Hong and A.D. Stefanowska. Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Women: The Twentieth Century 1912-2000. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2003.
MacFarquhar Roderik and Michael Schoenhals. Mao’s Last Revolution. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2006.