Arno Rafael Minkkinen is a Finnish American photographer, essayist, curator, and Professor Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Lowell as well as docent at Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland. A graduate student of Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind at Rhode Island School of Design, Minkkinen obtained his MFA in 1974. Returning from two years of teaching in Finland, he was soon hired as Assistant Professor at MIT’s Creative Photography Lab, from 1977 to 1981, teaching and curating, together with Starr Ockenga, monthly exhibitions and lecture series at the lab’s gallery, as well as developing a Master of Science in Visual Studies program.
Major monographs include Waterline (Marval, Aperture, and Otava, 1994), winner of the Arles book prize in 1994; SAGA: The Journey of Arno Rafael Minkkinen: Thirty-Five Years of Photographs (Chronicle, 2005); Homework: The Finnish Photographs (Like, Ltd, Helsinki, 2008); and Minkkinen (Kehrer, 2019), winner of the German Photo Book Prize in Gold for 2020.
Collections include the Musée d’art moderne and the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris, the Musée de l’Élysée in Lausanne, the Musée Nicéphore Niépce in Chalon Sur Saône, the National Gallery of Finland, the National Gallery of Art in Ottawa, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, among many others.
National Endowment for the Arts and Massachusetts Cultural Council grant recipient, Minkkinen’s awards include being knighted in 1993 with the Order of the Lion First Class Medal for his service to Finnish Photography followed by the Finnish State Art Prize in Photography (2006). In 2013, he was honored with the Lucie Award for Achievement in Fine Art and in 2015 became a Guggenheim Fellow. On the 100th Anniversary of Finnish Independence in 2017, Minkkinen received Finland’s highest cultural honor, the Pro Finlandia Medal, given for literature, dance, music, and the arts. In 2019 he was named Honored Educator by the Society for Photographic Education, an award he also received from SPE’s Northeast chapter two years earlier.
Today Arno Rafael Minkkinen continues his passion for teaching workshops, writing, and extending what is one of the longest running, non-stop, self-portrait bodies of work in the history of photography. A screenplay is in the works with a Finnish producer, a project that got its wings from two Wayne Beach workshops at Maine Media.
All images © Arno Rafael Minkkinen. Courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York. Header image: Continental Divide at Independence Pass, Colorado, 2012.