Tag Archives: wall art

che longing

(Post by John Allan from Bridgetown, Western Australia – March 2022.)

Last February fellow regular collaborator George Cheyne wrote the splendid article Wall Of Fame for this excellent blog. He explored the numerous posters we had back in the 70s (disguising the embarrassing Winnie The Pooh wallpaper in my case). A great article but I fear he missed one important iconic image.

The Che Guevara poster.

Che Guevara poster

Mine, if I remember correctly, was handed down to me by my eldest brother when he flew the nest. To me it was some Cuban revolutionary guy in a cool beret. That was the extent of my knowledge and the lack of interest for further research as a pubescent adolescent.

With the advent of time and the emergence of easy use internet search engines, I now know differently.

ErnestoCheGuevara (14 June 1928– 9 October 1967) was from a wealthy Argentinian family. He was a Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, guerilla leader, diplomat, and military theorist.

His nickname che is a common filler or interjection used in Argentine Spanish a bit like eh in Canadian English or ken in some Scots dialects.

Whether he was on the side of good or evil, I’ll let his biographer, Dr Peter McLaren have his say.

The current court of opinion places Che on a continuum that teeters between viewing him as a misguided rebel, a coruscatingly brilliant guerrilla philosopher, a poet-warrior jousting at windmills, a brazen warrior who threw down the gauntlet to the bourgeoisie, the object of fervent paeans to his sainthood, or a mass murderer clothed in the guise of an avenging angel whose every action is imbricated in violence—the archetypal Fanatical Terrorist.

As a quasi rebellious teenager, I may have had slight left leaning world views not like the watermelon I have now become in old age – green on the outside and red in the middle ! – but since this is an apolitical platform I’ll leave it at that !

It’s the iconic poster I want to concentrate on.

Guerrillero Heroico was the original photograph taken by Alberto Korda in Havana, Cuba on the 5 March 1960 at a memorial service. Another figure and a palm tree were cropped out to give the image an ageless quality.

Che’s image remained in Cuba for the next 7 years used in newspapers occasionally advertising conferences he was to speak at. In 1967 wealthy Italian newspaper publisher Giangiacomo Feltrinelli while trying to negotiate the release of a French journalist captured as a part of Guevara’s guerilla operations in Bolivia, asked the Cuban government for a suitable image of Che. Because he was a friend of the revolution, Korda gave him 2 prints for free. Feltrinelli then distributed thousands of images to bring awareness to Guevara’s precarious situation and ultimate demise.

In 1967 Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick printed the image in it’s now familiar black and red adding a subtle ‘F’ on the shoulder. It was used as a symbol in the May 1968 Paris student riots. In 2008 Fitzpatrick signed over copyright to a paediatric cardiology hospital in Havana.

One of the great icons of the 20th century evolved into a popular and heavily commercialised icon that often strayed far from Che’s hard-line Marxist message.

So, a bit more than some Cuban revolutionary guy in a cool beret.

For the record, I did also have a beret that was commandeered by my girlfriend (now wife) in the 80s. I blame Bananarama – a different kind of revolution perhaps !

I wonder if in years to come teenagers will have a stylised poster of Volodymyr Zelenskyy on their bedroom walls – Some cool Ukrainian war hero dude.

I hope so. Viva la Revolución !

wall of fame

(by George Cheyne – Glasgow)

Sometimes Hollywood gets it right with the perfect movie – then somehow gets it so wrong with a stinker of a sequel.

I’m thinking of The Sting 2, Staying Alive – the follow-up to Saturday Night Fever – The Godfather 3 and any of the Jaws or Rocky efforts that came along after the originals.

Certain films deserve to be preserved for posterity without any money-chasing sequel. There’s a good reason why there isn’t a Citizen Abel, It’s A Wonderful Death, Chariots of Embers, Star Truces or Earl of the Rings.

The originals were flawless and deserve to be remembered that way. I would also include The Shawshank Redemption in that category but, for the purposes of healthy debate, let’s just say there was to be a Shawshank 2 – set four years after Andy Dufresne escaped the grim penitentiary.

That would place our hero back in the slammer rather handily at the start of the 1970s. Handily for our purposes, obviously, rather than his.  Presumably he’d be pissed off at being recaptured and dragged back to prison from his fishing boat in Mexico.

But the burning question for Shawshank 2 is what posters would be pinned up in his cell wall. In the original movie, Andy – played by Tim Robbins – had the company of actresses Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe and Raquel Welch for the 19 years he was banged up.

If our imaginary sequel is to be set in the Seventies, then the actresses would be stars such as Goldie Hawn, Faye Dunaway and Meryl Streep.

That trio spanned the decade and made their mark in movies like There’s A Girl In My Soup, Chinatown and Kramer v Kramer. But I’m not convinced they would have been first picks to take pride of place in bedroom walls back in the day.

The popular poster boys and girls from the Seventies seemed to be pop stars or TV actors. And with all due respect and deference to prog rockers, heavy-metal bangers and punk rockers, I’ve compiled a mainstream list of those artists who were most likely to be peering out at you from a teenager’s room in the 1970s.

As with any of these types of lists, it’s not an exact science. But it is based on some exhaustive research and investigation on the subject – okay, you’ve got me, it’s solely reliant on my hazy memories of who were the heartthrobs of the day. 

That said, I’m pretty confident the ones on my list would have been up there, literally, when it came to be top of the pin-ups back in the day.

There’s a handy biog and heartthrob rating out of 5 to go along with it.

Sadly, we can’t offer our cut-out-and-keep service these days unless you choose to print it out yourself.

David Cassidy

Shot to fame in the early 70s on TV’s Partridge Family in his role as Keith. Banged out a few No 1 songs in his day and was front cover material for every teen mag going.

5 HEART THROB RATING:

Donny Osmond

Along with Cassidy, seemed to corner the teen idol market in the early part of the decade. Try as he might, he was never able to shake off his goodie-two-shoes image. ️

John Travolta

Nailed his pin-up status with leading roles in movie blockbusters Saturday Night Fever and Grease. Fair to say, he was best known for his dancing rather than acting or singing.

Marc Bolan

Lead singer with T-Rex belted out some of the best tunes of the glam rock era. Makes the list because he was just as likely to be pinned up on a boy’s wall as a girl’s.

Les McKeown

Maybe not up there in terms of looks, but who am I to judge? He’s in there simply because he was the front man of the 70s phenomenon that was the Bay City Rollers. ️

Farah Fawcett

The smiley star of television series Charlie’s Angels became THE face of the Seventies without being able to act very well – or sing, for that matter. But that hair… ️

Debbie Harry

There was a fair bit of street cred if you had a Blondie poster on your wall in the late Seventies because of their banging tunes. Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. ️

Olivia Newton-John

Became an instant pin-up as a result of a duet with John Travolta at the tail end of the film Grease. Good as the song was, it’s fair to say her paint-on trousers stole the show. ️

Bo Derek

Another one-hit wonder. Her marketing team did a brilliant job of propelling her from an unknown actress in 10 alongside Dudley Moore to become a superstar. It’s the hair again… ️

Lynda Carter

As a former Miss World contestant, she was always going to be pin-up material. But she absolutely smashed it with her starring role in the Wonder Woman TV series. ️

Of course, there would have been footballers up on bedroom walls as well, but that’s a whole new chapter where I grew up.

Best to go down the international route which, in the 1970s, would have  given us superstars Pele, Johan Cruyff and Diego Maradona.

That trio wouldn’t have looked out of place on anyone’s wall. But would they be good enough to distract Andy Dufresne’s knuckle-scraping guards as he tries to escape in Shawshank 2?  I doubt it.

And if Goldie Hawn, Faye Dunaway or Meryl Streep didn’t work out, Andy could always put up a poster of Fiona Butler.

Who? Only the subject of one of the best-selling pieces of 1970s pop art, that’s who.

Think tennis, think sunny day, think long-legged blonde scratching her bahookie. See, now you’re distracted.