Photographer of Iconic Che Guevara Portrait Gets His Own Exhibit

Alberto Korda's famed "Guerrillero Heroico"
Alberto Korda's famed "Guerrillero Heroico"
Courtesy of the Pieczenik collection

Ernesto "Che" Guevara, the Argentine-born communist, briefly stepped forward at a public memorial held March 5, 1960 in Cuba. The day before, La Coubre, a French ship carrying munitions, exploded in the Havana harbor killing scores on board. The revolutionary government blamed the CIA. Che witnessed the mayhem, lending his hand as a trained doctor to the victims.

At the memorial, he took a low profile, but came within view of Cuban photographer Alberto Korda who snapped just two candid shots. The rest, as they say, is history. The iconic "Guerrillero Heroico" portrait is just one of many that are a part of the Korda: Revolutionary Photographer exhibit opening at Long Beach's Museum of Latin American Art this Saturday.

Korda's photograph of Che, reproduced on t-shirts the world over, isn't the only highlight. "That's a big image in the show," says Molaa curator Eddie Hayes. "But what we like is that it's in the context of other photographs by Korda where you see him making a transition."

Prior to the exhibit opening, Molaa is hosting a discussion on imagery of popular Latin American heroes in art throughout centuries on Friday night. A documentary on Korda screens throughout the exhibit opening the following day.

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Born Alberto Díaz Gutiérrez, Korda started out professionally as a fashion photographer publishing in the Havana Weekly (no relation to our rag) before becoming the foremost chronicler of the Cuban Revolution beginning in 1959.

The exhibit's 19 images come by way of the vintage collection of Maryland's Dr. Steve and Pieczenik. Portraits include leisurely moments of Fidel Castro and Che playing golf on ex-dictator Fulgencio Batista's personal course and fishing.

Another features visiting French existential philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. "We're seeing key images of Cuba right after the revolution," adds Hayes. "It's about all of these intersections that Korda captures with his camera."

Korda: Revolutionary Photographer opens this Saturday at the Museum of Latin American Art, 628 Alamitos Ave., Long Beach, 3 p.m. - 5 p.m. $9 general admission. Kids under 12 free. Exhibit runs through August 2, 2015.

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