How Che’s Iconic Photograph Became Famous

Wonder Sonder


Alberto Korda holds up a Cuban bank note, which features the iconic image produced by the photographer in 1960. Alberto Korda holds up a Cuban bank note, which features his iconic image of Che Guevera

Very few photographs have shaped the world as has the timeless snapshot of Che Guevera taken by photographer Alberto Díaz Gutiérrez, known as Korda on March 4, 1960. Very few photographs even have such an alluring and dreadful narrative of death surrounding it.

The photograph in question is instantaneously familiar, the brooding stare of Che Guevara recognizable, a cultural icon like “the Nike swoosh or McDonald’s golden arches,” notes NY Times writer Michiko Kakutani, who elucidates on the ubiquitousness of this particular image by suggesting that Che’s stare is at turns “pensive, determined, defiant, meditative or implacable — as difficult. . . “to put a finger on” as the Mona Lisa’s smile.”

The image has, in the past 50 years, become the feature of silkscreens, watches, chains, cigarette lighters, coffee mugs, wallets, backpacks, mouse pads, beach towels and condoms. From a…

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