I heard gasps of astonishment and exclamations of “wow” around me in Carnegie Hall’s Zankel auditorium, as photographer Arno Rafael Minkkinen ’67 received the Award for Achievement in Fine Art at the Lucie Awards ceremony on Sunday evening, Oct. 27.
The audience included editors from Time, Aperture, and many other magazines; gallery curators from San Francisco, London, etc.; representatives of ad agencies like Ogilvy and Mather and Publicis; and world-class photographers from around the world. All had come to this sold-out event to celebrate great achievements in all forms of photography.
The first sounds of awe came when Arno’s presenters came out of the wings — Scott Landis, the Broadway producer responsible for “Nice Work If You Can Get It” and “Venus in Fur,” among others; and Sally Mann, one of America’s most renowned photographers herself (and a 2005 Lucie Award winner).
I especially loved what Sally Mann had to say about Arno, her fellow traveler in the struggle to maintain a true and unique voice in photography:
“[Arno] is a man of enormous generosity and kindness and talent so light-filled and lustrous that it parts your hair. He is surrounded by a bright nimbus of what Nabokov once called ‘aesthetic bliss,’ a state of being embracing curiosity, tenderness, kindness, and ecstasy. For Arno, even the simplest human gestures — a Christmas card, the love of his puppy Bravo, the care he gives to his students — everything he does is radiant and clever — but not too clever — and filled with the impudent joy of creativity. His work is genius.”
The second set of gasps began after Sally Mann finished speaking. A short video about Arno’s work appeared on the screen, demonstrating the “genius” and “impudent joy of creativity” of which she had spoken.
From my experience of getting to know Arno Minkkinen while working on a feature story about him for the upcoming issue of Wagner Magazine, Sally Mann’s words captured Arno and his gifts beautifully. It was a thrill to see him — a proud son of Wagner College — be so lovingly and deservedly recognized.
Below, watch a video of Scott Landis and Sally Mann presenting Arno Minkkinen's Lucie Award, plus a video that features his work. (Sensitive viewers: Be advised that the photographs contain nudity.)