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Let A Thousand Flowers Bloom

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"Letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend is the policy for promoting the progress of the arts and the sciences and a flourishing socialist culture in our land." -Mao tse-Tung

The Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC was all-a-tizzy two weeks ago for fear that a visiting delegation of Chinese art experts would see Andy Wahol's painting of Chairman Mao tse-Tung. Warhol's painting of Mao is 15 feet high and 12 feet wide, and dominates the atrium at the front entrance.

A memorandum went out, telling the Corcoran staff that the visiting Chinese should be let in through the back door and escorted in such a way that they would miss the huge painting. "Important," said the memo. "They will never enter the atrium..."no mention can be made of the Warhol work. It does not exist."

Actually, the Warhol work is a quite accurate rendition of Mao's official portrait, except that his face is painted graygreen.

In his famous essay on culture Mao went on to say "...We think that it is harmful to the growth of art and science if administrative measures are used to impose one particular style of art or school of thought and to ban another."