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Arno Rafael Minkkinen

Two Hundred Seasons

Asikkala, Finland, 1992 © Arno Rafael Minkkinen

The exhibition Two Hundred Seasons at Fotografiska presents works by Arno Rafael Minkkinen – photographs made from 1970 to 2020 selected from numerous locations in thirty different countries worldwide including thirty American states. The exhibition is neither a chronological survey nor a retrospective. Concentrating instead on the existential human condition through self-portraiture, Two Hundred Seasons becomes an exuberant museum experience by an artist who has defied categorization for the past five decades. The observant visitor will notice that the exterior walls of the exhibition are marked by a thin horizon line. Birch trees swaying, songbirds singing, owls hooting, and bullfrogs chatting along shorelines complete the sensory impression.

timelessness and aesthetic signature

As social distancing has become the new normal, it is good to pause and reflect in front of Minkkinen’s self-portraits. He seamlessly blends his body with the natural elements so that each image becomes a visual puzzle. Almost always in solitude, without the help of assistants looking through the camera or manipulation of any kind, he transforms something as specific as a naked body in nature into something universal. By restricting himself to self-defined limitations, he seeks to keep everything the same, and yet every photograph is always different.

From his first works in the early 1970s until today, his images have preserved the same timelessness and aesthetic signature. I know of no one in the history of art whose persistence of vision and practice has extended nonstop for over fifty years. Although his photographs can be viewed as conceptually linked to artists such as Bruce Nauman, Lucas Samaras, and Cindy Sherman, Minkkinen is Minkkinen, flouting all and any classification.

Arno Rafael Minkkinen is pure poetry, and his oeuvre is an enduring, contemporary homage to the relationship between nature and humankind.


For over fifty years, Arno Rafael Minkkinen has focused his work on the nude self-portrait as a primary vehicle for expressing the metaphysical experience of being in the world in natural and urban settings. Minkkinen was born in Helsinki, Finland, in 1945 and immigrated to the United States in 1951. A Wagner College graduate, he began taking self-portraits in 1970 while working as an advertising copywriter on Madison Avenue.

An MFA degree soon followed, studying with Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind at Rhode Island School of Design. Currently, Minkkinen is an Emeritus Professor of Art at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and Docent at Aalto University School of Art, Design and Architecture in Helsinki.

International curator, lecturer, and essayist for many decades, he continues to engage such activities and conducts workshops worldwide. Published and exhibited globally, Minkkinen’s work can be found in over seventy-five prominent museum and institutional collections such as the Centre Pompidou and the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and Houston, the High Museum in Atlanta, the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, and Moderna Museet in Stockholm.

Minkkinen was knighted in Finland in 1992 and received the Finnish State Art Prize in Photography in 2006, the Lucie Award for Outstanding Achievement in Fine Art in 2013, a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in 2015, and the Pro Finlandia medal in 2017.