Yan Han (1916-2011) was from Nianyuan, Jiangsu Province. He studied Chinese and Western painting at the Hangzhou Art Academy. After the outbreak of the anti-Japanese war, he went to Yan'an where entered the Lu Xun Academy in 1938 to learn woodblock printing. In 1939, Yan went to the Taihang Mountains, where he created woodcuts at the Eighth Army Headquarters. He moreover created many propaganda prints, "new" New Year pictures, cartoon strips and wallposters.
After 1949, Yan was involved with most of the major campaigns, including land reform and the War in Korea. In 1951, he was appointed to teach art at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, where he established the Printmaking Department. As an activist, he was liable to become the victim of policy shifts. By 1957, during the Anti-Rightist Movement, Yan was (mistakenly) branded as a rightist, and was sent to the countryside the following year.
Yan was mainly known as a woodcut artist. In the 1980s, his style turned to abstraction.