Wang Hongwen (1932-1992)

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

Wang Hongwen 王洪文 (1932-1992) was the youngest member of the Gang of Four. He started his political career during the Cultural Revolution, when he rose to fame in Shanghai as a “rebel” labor leader (MacFarquhar and Schoehals, 2006: 473). He climbed the social ladder at record speed: from security guard in a cotton mill in the 1960s, Wang Hongwen managed to become Mao’s possible successor in the early 1970s. His rise to power proved, however, meteoritic: by 1976 he was arrested as a member of the Gang of Four and later sentenced to life prison. Wang Hongwen’s young age, his lack of political knowledge, and his dependence to the other members of the Gang of Four for his political survival are the main topics of the caricatures artists used against him. His weakness for alcohol was also one of cartoonists’ favorite targets.


MacFarquhar Roderik and Michael Schoenhals. Mao’s Last Revolution. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2006.