On this Day (5th March) in 1960 – The Cuban photographer, Alberto Korda took his iconic photograph of Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara, in Havana, Cuba at a memorial service for the victims of La Coubre explosion.
Alberto Korda said that he was drawn to photograph Che Guevara at that particular moment because his facial expression showed ‘absolute implacability’ as well as anger and pain.
The Maryland Institute of Art has called it a symbol of the 20th century and the world’s most famous photograph. The photograph, called Guerrillero Heroico (Heroic Guerrilla Fighter), has re-appeared many times and has been copied, printed, digitized, embroidered or sketched on nearly every material and surface.
The Victoria and Albert Museum said that it is one of the most re-produced images of all time.
Jonathan Green, director of the UCR/California Museum of Photography, has speculated that “Korda’s image has worked its way into languages around the world. It has become an alpha-numeric symbol, a hieroglyph, an instant symbol. It mysteriously reappears whenever there’s a conflict. There isn’t anything else in history that serves in this way”
It is quite simply one of the most famous images in history and appears throughout the world. Not many people haven’t seen this man’s face. Associated ultimately with revolution and rebellion, this symbol is often now linked to art and popular culture, however it is still used today as a political statement in rallies and riots. It has appeared on t-shirts and posters, I have even seen a poster of this iconic photograph in bars and restaurants.
It is the ultimate symbol of Marxism. Today, the symbol of the image has become somewhat diluted as it filters down into modern popular culture, but the image still remains to this day, and will remain for years yet to come, truly iconic.
Below shows the original photograph taken by Korda, which was later cropped by him (after Che’s death) to remove the second man and the palm tree and rotated slightly to give us the image we are now familiar with today, which gave the portrait ‘an ageless quality, divorced from the specifics of time and place.’
By Andy Warhol
The famous poster stylized by Jim Fitzpatrick in 1968.