1968 - Jim Fitzpatrick creates the iconic portrait of Che Guevara, based on a 1960 photo by Korda

Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick is best known for elaborate work inspired by the Irish Celtic artistic tradition. But his most famous single piece is his iconic two-tone portrait of Che Guevara created in 1968, based on a photograph by Alberto Korda.

The black and red screen-printed poster version was produced after Guevara’s death in October 1967. It was based on a high-quality image of Korda’s photo obtained from an Amsterdam magazine, which in turn got it from a print Korda had presented to Jean-Paul Sartre.

Fitzpatrick’s poster alters the original Korda print in subtle ways: the eyes have a slightly more upward and ‘saintly’ gaze, and Guevara is given longer hair as it was a symbol of rebellion at the time.

Originally a fashion photographer, Korda was, in effect, official photographer of the Cuban revolution. He never accepted any royalties for the original photograph, although he was sensitive about its inappropriate commercialisation. While Fitzpatrick regards his poster as a standalone graphic for which he holds the copyright, he too has never claimed royalties for its use (or abuse). 

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