Arno Rafael Minkkinen is a Finnish-American photographer. He was born in Helsinki in 1945 and emigrated to the United States in 1951. After graduating from Wagner College with a BA in English Literature, copywriting on Madison Avenue helped paid the bills. “What happens inside your mind can happen inside a camera” (for Minolta cameras) and “Jingle Bells” (for J&B Scotch) were among the lines he wrote before turning his attention fully to photography. At a workshop with John Benson at Apeiron in Millerton, New York in September 1971, he began a series of nude self-portraits inspired in part by the work of the late Diane Arbus whose course he had at first hoped to take there.
A few years later, studying with Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind at Rhode Island School of Design, Minkkinen earned his MFA in photography. Over the next decade and a half, shuffling careers as well as continents—both as a teacher/curator and creative director/copywriter—Minkkinen continued to devote his photographic research and energies to the self-portrait—specifically, unmanipulated images of the unclothed human figure in the natural landscape.
Currently Professor of Art at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Minkkinen also serves as Docent at the University of Art & Design Helsinki and graduate faculty at Maine Media College in Rockport, Maine. Earlier in his teaching career he had served as Assistant Professor at MIT and Visiting Artist at Philadelphia College of Art and the Lahti Institute of Design in Lahti, Finland.
Published and exhibited worldwide, Minkkinen’s work can be found in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, the Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris and Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Musée de l’Élysée in Lausanne, the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography in Japan, among many others.
Arno Rafael Minkkinen was awarded the Order of the Lion First Class Medal by the Finnish government in 1992 and the Finnish State Art Prize in Photography in 2006. He currently serves on the National Board of the Society for Photographic Education.
Six monographs have been published: Frostbite
Morgan & Morgan, Dobbs Ferry, New York, 1978 Waterline
Marval/Paris, Aperture/New York, and Otava/Helsinki, 1994
Grand Prix du Livre at the 25th Rencontres d’Arles Body Land
Motta/Milan, Nathan/Paris, Smithsonian Institution Press/Washington, DC, 1997–1999 SAGA: The Journey of Arno Rafael Minkkinen, Thirty-Five Years of Photographs
Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 2005
Special Jury Prize, 2nd Lianzhou International Photography Festival, China Swimming in the Air
Cavallo Point, San Francisco, 2008 Homework: The Finnish Photographs, 1973 to 2008
Like Publishing Ltd., Helsinki, 2008