“Korda in America,” shot during Fidel Castro’s historic first visits to America in April of 1959—at the invitation of the American Society of Newspaper Editors—and September of 1960, is a testament to both Cuba’s and Korda’s enduring significance. Korda, reporting for the newly created Cuban newspaper Revolución, documented Castro, both the man and political figure, as no other photographer was able. In the span of approximately fourteen days between Washington, New York and Boston in April of 1959, Korda documents a whirlwind of activity, capturing not only the public face of the 33-year-old Prime Minister of Cuba, but also the relaxed, intimate, and even humorous moments throughout the visit. Despite the US government’s increasing concerns over Castro’s political plans, the seductive personality of the charismatic leader was conscientiously chronicled by Korda. In addition to his photojournalism duties, Korda also reveals his lifelong passion for fashion photography and feminine beauty. After photographing the bearded former guerilla fighter in olive-green fatigues on the set of NBC’s Meet the Press as he explains his impressions of the “nice and noble” US citizens, Korda turns his attention to an anonymous model in a smart suit who poses alongside the police barricades of New York as the crowd waits for Castro to drive down the street.
This timely exhibition, curated following the recent thaw in US-Cuba foreign relations and marking the one-year anniversary of President Barack Obama’s televised Statement, offers an historical insight into a time fraught with tension, yet hallmarked by the spellbound attention of the crowd, impressing America’s long-held fascination with Cuba and its struggle for freedom.
Alberto Díaz Gutiérrez (1928–2001), otherwise known as Korda and best known for his image of Che Guevera, was the
accompanying photographer to Fidel Castro for ten years, the auteur of several of the most iconic images of the Cuban
Revolution, and the most versatile Cuban photographer of his generation. Born the son of a railway worker and a housewife in Havana, Cuba, Alberto Korda went on to photograph such important historical figures and luminaries as Nikita Khrushchev, Simone de Beauvoir, and Jean-Paul Sartre, and was awarded the Cuban ”Palma de Plata” in 1959 and the National Culture Distinction, Ministry of Culture, Cuba in 1994.