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21/02/2011

Che Guevara, Guerrillero Heroico ("Heroic Guerrilla"), Alberto Korda

This is a photo of a street poster which I have stylized with digital alterations.
Guerrillero Heroico ("Heroic Guerrilla") is an iconic photo of Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara taken by Alberto Korda. It was taken on March 5, 1960, in Havana, Cuba, at a memorial service for victims of the La Coubre explosion and by the end of the 1960s turned the charismatic and controversial leader into a cultural icon. Korda has said that at the moment he shot the picture, he was drawn to Guevara's facial expression, which showed "absolute implacability" as well as anger and pain. Years later, Korda would say that the photo showed Che's firm and stoic character. Guevara was 31 at the time the photo was taken.

Emphasizing the image's ubiquitous nature and wide appeal, the Maryland Institute College of Art called the picture a symbol of the 20th century and the world's most famous photo. Versions of it have been painted, printed, digitized, embroidered, tattooed, silk-screened, sculpted or sketched on nearly every surface imaginable, leading the Victoria and Albert Museum to say that the photo has been reproduced more than any other image in photography. 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".

The Che Guevara clothing and fashion accessories trend or "Che chic" is a fashion trend phenomena which has attracted attention from the media, political commentators, and Cuban American activists, due to the popularity of the T-shirt design, Che's political beliefs, and the "ironic" nature of buying a t-shirt depicting a Marxist icon. As op-ed commentator Chris Berg has noted "Ironically, Che Guevara's longevity as a cultural symbol has been thanks to the very economic system he sought to destroy".

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