Su Gaoli was born in Pingding, Shanxi Province, in 1937. After completing his education in the Oil Painting Department of the Central Art Academy, he went to the Soviet Union for further training. Upon his return in 1966, he took up teaching at the Central Art Academy. His speciality is oil painting.
The 1977 poster 'Premier Zhou is our close friend', devoted to Zhou Enlai's visit to the model commune Dazhai and meeting with its Secretary Chen Yonggui, is based on an original oil painting by Su, in collaboration with Pang Tao and Lin Gang.