The Journey of Arno Rafael Minkkinen, Photographs 1970-2005

Rafael Minnkinen, Self Portrait

Rafael Minnkinen, Self Portrait

Born in Helsinki, internationally renowned photographer Arno Rafael Minkkinen immigrated to the United States with his family at the age of six in 1950. In 1971, inspired by the photography of Diane Arbus, Minnkinen embarked on learning this art form. During his training, he found he was floundering with his subject matter and decided to take a break. That day off proved to be exceedingly fruitful. While wandering he found a weathered mirror outside a farm building. There he shed his clothes and photographed his nude reflection. This experience set him on an impressive path of discovery which he has been continually mining for over 35 years.

Referring to himself as a trickster, Minkkinen explores his own unclothed body in unison with a variety of landscapes from many parts of the world to produce an ongoing series of remarkable self portraits. Positioned somewhere between an athlete, contortionist, daredevil, and dancer, he is the central figure in all his works, stating, "I have to photograph myself because I can't have anyone else undertake the troubles, dangers, risks that are associated with my photography."

Minkkinen does not superimpose negatives or digitally alter his images. Ranging from solemn to humorous, through the use of unexpected positions and inventive perspectives the human body is presented as never seen before. Due to Minnkinen's strong relationship to his Finnish heritage, the exhibition layout is based on the epic Finnish 19th century folklore poem the Kalevala. The presentation grouping of images mirrors the following themes: from the water, of the hands, to the north, along the lakes, toward the forests, about the cities, among the women, at the ocean's edge, across the desert, through the canyons, within the waters, and at home. Curator A.D. Coleman writes, "Cumulatively, his images also comprise an account of an epic journey—both a physical adventure in the natural and urban world and a psychological voyage of the lone human spirit. Saga explores all those facets of Minkkinen's work, clarifying its autobiographical aspect, its cross-cultural underpinnings and its documentation of this artist's often high-risk physical adventures in the pursuit of his potent and memorable images."

Produced by the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Curated by A.D. Coleman and Todd Brandow. An exhibition catalogue featuring contributions by Arthur Danto and A.D. Coleman is available in the Gallery Shoppes.

Supported by Imperial Tobacco Canada Foundation and the Canada Council for the Arts.


Sign up for e-news

Gallery Hours

  • Tuesday 11am-5pm
  • Wednesday 11am-5pm
  • Thursday 11am-5pm
  • Friday 11am-9pm
  • Saturday 11am-5pm
  • Sunday 11am-5pm
  • Closed Monday

Holiday Hours


WAG Social Media

Share This

This should be hidden