Quaker Oats Mao
The somewhat paradoxical connection between mass culture and propaganda culture recurs frequently in post-Mao MaoArt. In Zhang Hongtu’s 张宏图 (1943-) Quaker Oats Mao, composed in 1987 we see a can of “Old fashioned Quaker Oats” with (not quite) Quaker Man adorning it. The original Quaker Man’s dark broad-brimmed bowler-hat and his white curly hair is retouched in red. He is now wearing the green Mao Cap with Red Star and—most importantly—sunrays are emanating from his head. To thus associate Mao with a prime product of American capitalism (Quaker is one of the four largest consumer goods companies in the world, with a presence in China of a good century; the Quaker Man was America’s first registered trademark for a breakfast cereal, first registered in 1877) and ethical—not to say, religious (the company has no formal ties with the Quakers, they originally chose the Quaker garb for their trademark, because the Quaker businesspeople were known for their purity, honesty and integrity)—values, rather than the proletarian revolution, would of course have been out of order completely within a Cultural Revolution context. But even after the Cultural Revolution, this image appears not just slightly frivolous.