On 5th of March 1960 Alberto “Korda” Gutierrez took two pictures of Che Guevara. In 1967 the Italian publisher Giangiacomo Feltrinelli received two copies of the famous print at no cost.
Feltrinelli started making posters from the prints with the notice â??Copyright Feltrinelliâ?? down in the corner. The image was on itâ??s way to become an international icon â?? it has been transformed, transplanted, transmitted and transfigured all over the world.
Korda never received a penny. For one reason only – Cuba had not signed the Berne Convention. Fidel Castro described the protection of intellectual property as imperialistic “bullshit”. Does this mean that Korda’s work is in the public domain? Probably not – but it is in a serious grey area.
Today I saw a new chapter in the Korda print. Paul Frank have made their fame (at least in my opinion – but then again this is not a fashion blog) from their cartoon monkey
The Paul Frank monkey is a cultural icon. So is Korda’s Che image. Paul Frank have now playfully (?), respectfully (?), irreverently (?) created a mashup of these two icons into this inevitable (?) conclusion…
When Che t-shirts became popular again (after the fall of the Soviet Union) I remember hearing a few mumblings from people that “young people” were adopting the icons of the revolution without any knowledge about the content, struggle or ideologi – the past had in fact become a trademark belonging to no one. I tried then to argue for the role of the cultural icon – but some still stuck to their guns and argued that the young were adopting symbols without knowledge and the manufacturers were profiteering on the ideology of the revolution.
From Korda to Paul Frank…evolution?…regression? You decide…