Cuban photographer Alberto Díaz Gutiérrez, simply known as Korda, is most famous for his image of Ernesto “Che” Guevara. This image, entitled Heroic Guerrilla, is the most reproduced image in the world, printed on everything from posters and t-shirts to high couture clothing. Long before Korda’s image of Che graced the runways, Korda himself was “in fashion”. Prior to the revolution and shooting Heroic Guerrilla, Korda was a successful fashion photographer, defining the fashion photography aesthetic in Cuba. The iconic “Che” image that made Korda famous, has overshadowed his earlier fashion photography, making this important body of work largely unknown.
Korda’s studio was nationalized on March 14, 1968, and all of his negatives were confiscated and removed to an undisclosed location. It is believed that only his negatives from the Cuban revolution have been preserved and the others, particularly those of elitist fashion, were tossed or destroyed. The photographer died in 2001 at the age of 72.
Curator Ron Herman set out on a quest to uncover Korda’s lesser-known life in fashion. His research has taken him to New York, Miami and Havana, where he has been interviewing Korda’s models, colleagues, family and friends. He is searching for and cataloging the fashion images that have survived since Korda’s studio was nationalized. The images he has located thus far have been severely bent, torn and water damaged, requiring extensive digital photo restoration.
This is the first exhibition dedicated to Korda’s fashion photography, and consists of 31 images printed on Hahnemühle paper, matted and framed. The exhibit premiered in 2013, in celebration of Korda’s 85th and his model Norka’s 75th birthdays, held respectively on September 14th and October 23, 2013.