The Stories Behind Some of the 20th Century's Most Iconic Portraits

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The stories behind Hendrix's flaming guitar, Picasso's bread hands, and Che's rebellious glare

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Portrait not only portray people but can also affix a meaning to them, adding to and possibly conflicting whatever baseline emotions their visage stirs up in the viewer. Here, we've collected a few of the most iconic portraits of the most iconic figures, from musicians to actors to artists to politicians. Note: we're not claiming that these are the most iconic figures of the 20th century hands down (although some would definitely make the cut), but rather that these portraits rank among the most powerful and enduring photographic images of the century.

Many of these photographs have transcended their subjects to become iconic in their own rights as images—for instance, even those who have no idea who Che Guevara is would probably recognize his face as captured by Alberto Korda and spray-painted on a t-shirt. Click through to see 10 of the most enduring portraits of pop culture icons taken in the 20th century.

This post also appears on Flavorpill, an Atlantic partner site.

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Emily Temple is an editor at Flavorpill.

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