Wednesday December 13, 2017

Korda: When the Revolution Came in Black-and-White

Famed photographs of Castro and Che by Alberto Diaz (Korda) to be sold in London

Among the photographs to be auctioned:

Alberto Díaz (Korda), Hemingway and Fidel, Cojímar 1960

British auction house Dominic Winter has announced that original photographs by the Cuban photojournalist Alberto Diaz—popularly known as Korda—will be presented for sale on March 4.

According to Chris Albury, an expert in vintage photography at the auction house, the photographs were acquired from independent photographer Keith Caldwell, a close friend of Korda’s in the years before his death. Caldwell was instrumental in helping to mount an exhibition of Korda’s work in Savannah, Georgia in 1999, and at London’s Royal National Theater in 2000. Caldwell acquired the photographs in the sale directly from Korda before the photographer’s death in 2001.

In addition to coverage in the U.K., news of the sale has made headlines in several countries, including ABC.Es, in Spain, ArtDaily.com, La Razón in Buenos Aires, and ElPais.es in its 'Galleries' section. The photos that accompany these articles depict Fidel Castro and Che Guevara playing golf at the Havana country club (which later became the National Art School), writer Ernest Hemingway with French actor Gerard Philipe, greeting Fidel at a fishing competition, an unidentified, beautiful woman in the Cuban armed forces, and a group of farmers in Havana, with one of them (“The Quixote of the Street Lamp”), holding a machete above a street light. There is also an shot of Camilo Cienfuegos and Castro entering Havana on January 8, 1959 (an image that excluded Celia Sanchez and the then-armed forces commander Hubert Matos).

Some of the photographs in the sale have been signed by the artist. Estimated prices range from 150 to 2,000 pounds (179 to 2.260 euros, $242 to $3,061). Couturier gallery in Los Angeles is also selling images by Korda.

Long regarded as most famous photographer of the Cuban Revolution, Korda had already embarked on his career before Castro came to power in 1959. At the Korda Studio, located in the Capri Hotel in Havana’s Vedado neighborhood, the photographer documented the most beautiful models of the day (including Norka, who later became his wife), as well as documenting Cuban reality of that time. Korda began publishing in the “Revolución” (Revolution) newspaper in 1959, at that time helmed by Carlos Franqui. With a skillful command of modern photojournalistic styles, he took thousands of pictures documenting the new government, Cuban leaders, and popular rallies. Last year, Korda´s close friend and Cuban curator Cristina Vives, along with her daughter Diana and La Fábrica publishing house in Madrid, released Korda Conocido Desconocido (Korda Known Unknown), presenting images taken by a man in love with women, life, and a good rum.