Alberto Korda’s hands-down greatest hit was his portrait of Che Guevara, taken in 1960 for the Cuban newspaper Revolución. The image became an icon, first for the leftist worldview that Che advocated, and later as a pure graphic, cut loose from its history on t-shirts and posters and even a vodka bottle.
But it was not the only picture Korda took. Born in Havana, Korda got into fashion photography as a way to meet beautiful women, he claimed. He changed direction after the Cuban revolution and spent 10 years as Fidel Castro’s official photographer. In that capacity he made the images on view until January 30 at Sous Les Etoiles Gallery in New York. The 60 black and white images in “Korda in America” document Castro’s 1959 and 1960 visits to the U.S. As the gallery writes in a statement, “In the span of approximately fourteen days between Washington, New York and Boston in April of 1959, Korda documents a whirlwind of activity, capturing not only the savviness of the 33-year old Prime Minister of Cuba, but also the relaxed, intimate, and even humorous moments throughout the visit. Despite the U.S. government’s increasing concerns over Castro’s political plans, the seductive personality of the charismatic leader was conscientiously chronicled by Korda. In addition to his photojournalism duties, Korda also reveals his lifelong passion for fashion photography and feminine beauty. After photographing the bearded former guerilla fighter in olive-green fatigues on the set of NBC’s Meet the Press as he explains his impressions of the “nice and noble” US citizens, Korda turns his attention to an anonymous model in a smart suit who poses alongside the police barricades of New York as the crowd waits for Castro to drive down the street.”
Obituaries: Alberto Korda (for PDN subscribers; Log in required)