Guerrillero Heroico (Heroic Guerrilla Fighter) is a photograph of the the charismatic and controversial Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara, then 31 years old, wearing his black beret.
It was snapped by Alberto Korda (1928-2001) on 5th March 1960 in Havana, Cuba during a memorial service for victims of the freighter La Coubre’s explosion at Havana’s port; it was carrying 76 tons of explosive material the day before and resulted in up to 100 deaths.
This is the cropped version that we see most often
By the end of the decade the photo had become a cultural icon.
Guevara was shot to death in 1967 aged 39.
Korda was quoted to have said that during the time the photo was taken, he was drawn to Guevara’s face, which showed “absolute implacability”, anger and pain, and that it emphasized Che’s firm and stoic character.
Emphasizing the image’s ubiquitous nature and wide appeal, the Maryland Institute College of Art has called the photo “the most famous photograph in the world, and a symbol of the 20th century”.
Copies of it have been painted, printed, digitized, embroidered, tattooed, silk-screened, sculpted, sketched and every other conceivable method on virtually every surface in existence, prompting the Victoria and Albert Museum to quip that the photo “has been reproduced more times than any other image in photography’s history.”