Art Term

Political pop

The art movement political pop emerged in China in the 1980s, and combined western pop art with socialist realism to create art that questioned the political and social climate of a rapidly changing China

Wang Guangyi Great Criticism – Coca Cola 1994

Political pop was partly a response to the rampant modernisation of the country, but also was a way of coming to terms with the Cultural Revolution.

With pop’s banality and semi-ironic approach to capitalism, combined with propaganda images from the era of Chairman Mao, artists challenged the prevailing attitudes to art in China. A work like Blue Mao by Li Shan referenced Andy Warhol’s screen print portraits of the Chinese leader, while Wang Guangyi’s Great Criticism – Coca Cola depicted Chinese workers in a socialist realist style painting a sign for Coca Cola.

Critics of political pop have argued that the movement does not fully engage because of its strategy of imitating propaganda and consumerist discourse. The artists have also been accused of using stereotypes to meet the demand of the Western market.

related terms and concepts

Art Term

Pop art

Pop art is an art movement that emerged in the 1950s and flourished in the 1960s in America and Britain ...

Art Term

Socialist realism

A form of modern realism imposed in Russia by Stalin following his rise to power after the death of Lenin ...

explore this term

Art Term

Political pop

The art movement political pop emerged in China in the 1980s, and combined western pop art with socialist realism to ...

Art Term

Political pop

The art movement political pop emerged in China in the 1980s, and combined western pop art with socialist realism to ...

selected artists in the collection

Artist

Andy Warhol

1928–1987
Artist

Roy Lichtenstein

1923–1997
Artist

Jim Dine

born 1935
Artist

Joe Tilson

born 1928

selected artworks in the collection

political pop at tate

Tate Modern Exhibition

The EY Exhibition The World Goes Pop

17 Sep 2015 – 24 Jan 2016

Whaaam! Pop! Kapow! This is pop art, but not as you know it