ADVERTISEMENT

Alfredo Cunha: The photojournalist who defined Portugal's Carnation Revolution

Portuguese youth on 25 April 1974, by Alfredo Cunha
Portuguese youth on 25 April 1974, by Alfredo Cunha Copyright Alfredo Cunha
Copyright Alfredo Cunha
By Ricardo FigueiraBruno Silva
Share this articleComments
Share this articleClose Button
Copy/paste the article video embed link below:Copy to clipboardCopied
This article was originally published in Portuguese

Fifty years after the Carnation Revolution, Cunha's photographs continue to immortalise the military coup that changed the course of Portuguese contemporary history.

ADVERTISEMENT

On 25 April 1974, Alfredo Cunha was working as a photographer for 'O Século', a daily newspaper published in Lisbon.

Little did he know, when he left for work that morning, he was about to embark on a three-day, career-defining assignment.

Over the next few days, Cunha, who was then 20 years-old, documented the Carnation Revolution; the nearly bloodless coup that ended more than forty years of authoritarian rule in Portugal and Europe's longest-lasting dictatorship.

Today, Cunha's pictures are considered one of the most important and complete testimonies of the revolution which takes its name from the flowers offered to soldiers and placed in the muzzles of their guns.

Amigos A partir de agora, recomeço a publicar, na medida do possível, fotografias relativas ao livro "25 de Abril de...

Posted by Alfredo Cunha on Wednesday, April 10, 2024

"I left work in the evening and when I got home my mum told me there was a revolution going on. I went back to the newspaper again, 'O Século', where I worked, and took photographs," Cunha told Euronews.

An iconic portrait

One of the most famous photographs from Cunha's series wasn't published until 1994. 

It was printed by the newspaper 'Público' as part of an editorial entitled 'O olhar do capitão' and helped elevate Cunha's career. 

Portrait of Salgueiro Maia, unpublished until 1994: "The moment when man becomes myth", in the photographer's own words
Portrait of Salgueiro Maia, unpublished until 1994: "The moment when man becomes myth", in the photographer's own wordsAlfredo Cunha

"There are those who consider this portrait to be the portrait of 25 April. I think it's a portrait of Salgueiro Maia, nothing more than that, but it takes us to a point where the man becomes a myth. That's what people see in this portrait," explained Cunha.

Another photo from his series captured a group of young people gathered behind a cordon of soldiers. It's also one of Cunha's favourites: "It's a partial portrait since there are no women, but it shows us the state of mind on that day. 

"What we were like, how we dressed, how we had our hair, whether it was a multiracial society or not. And it was. I think this is a portrait in which everything is there if we bring these two faces together (the military man who smokes and the young black man at the back). It's Portugal in the 1970s."

A juventude portuguesa em 1974
A juventude portuguesa em 1974Alfredo Cunha

The award-winning photojournalist is holding a series of exhibitions across Portugal called '25 April 1974 Thursday' to mark the 50th anniversary of the revolution. 

Cunha has also published a book under the same name in collaboration with the Portuguese street artist Vhils and texts by Fernando Rosas, Carlos Matos Gomes and Adelino Gomes.

25 de Abril de 1974, Quinta feira ALFREDO CUNHA/VHILS A partir de agora, recomeço a publicar, na medida do possível,...

Posted by Alfredo Cunha on Monday, February 12, 2024
Vhils reinterpreta obra de Alfredo Cunha

series of works based on Cunha's photos will also be exhibited at the Lisnave shipyards in Almada, some six kilometres from Lisbon, to provide fresh interpretations.

Video editor • Bruno Filipe Figueiredo Da Silva

Share this articleComments

You might also like