KORDA - Rest in Peace Essay
by Mark Vallen 2001
Korda, the Cuban photographer who took the famous
photograph of Che Guevara
shown at left... died on May 26, 2001. The Maryland
Institute of Art called Korda's photo, "The
most famous photograph in the world and a symbol of the
snapped the picture of the revolutionary leader in March
1960 at a funeral service for 136 Cubans killed during a
terrorist attack. Guevara
briefly stepped forward onto the memorial service podium...
and in that split second, Korda captured this historic image.
photograph remained unpublished until some 7 years later, when
the artist gave a print to an Italian journalist. Upon Che's death
in 1967, the print was quickly published as a poster in Italy...
but it soon spread all over Europe and beyond. From then on the
image was replicated around the world, appearing on murals, flags,
buttons, T-shirts, posters, and album covers. Even Andy
Warhol profited from Korda's photograph when he printed
the image as one of his pop art silk-screen prints (shown directly
the countless ways in which Korda's image was marketed he never
received a single penny in royalties. However,
when the Smirnoff Vodka company used Korda's image of Che in a
year 2000 advertising campaign, the photographer sued.
on the illicit use of his photograph, the artist said, "As
a supporter of the ideals for which Che Guevara died, I am not
averse to its reproduction by those who wish to propagate his
memory and the cause of social justice throughout the world, but
I am categorically against the exploitation of Che's image for
the promotion of products such as alcohol, or for any purpose
that denigrates the reputation of Che." Korda
successfully won an out-of-court settlement against the Vodka
company which netted him around $50,000.
artist donated the money to the Cuban medical system, saying,
"If Che were still alive, he would have done the same."
Alberto Korda suffered a fatal heart attack while in Paris for
an exhibition of his photographic works.
Korda holding his famous photo)