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Minnesota Artists

Tom Arndt: Visual Stories
Thomas F. Arndt<br>American, born 1944<br><i>Minnesota State Fair, St. Paul</i>, 1976<br>Gelatin silver print<br>Minneapolis Institute of Arts<br>Gift of First Banks
zoom Thomas F. Arndt
American, born 1944
Minnesota State Fair, St. Paul, 1976
Gelatin silver print
Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Gift of First Banks


Since the early 1970s, the photographer Tom Arndt has repeatedly focused his camera lens on Minnesota, his native state. Known as a documentary, or “street,” photographer, Arndt works in public places, taking candid pictures of ordinary people going about their daily lives. However, his black-and-white photographs are more than just records of who was where, and when. They are visual stories of real people, places, and times, capturing carefully selected moments of human experience.

Arndt’s photographs are honest images of everyday life. For this Minnesota State Fair scene, he did not ask anyone to pose, or wait for people to notice him and his camera. The group in front, the children to the left, and the security guard at the right are all casually living this particular moment of their lives. Arndt captured their experience—what was happening in that place at that time—and as viewers we can imagine ourselves there. We can hear the hum of the carnival in the background, smell the aromas from the food stands, and see the bright blinking lights.

His work as a photographer has taken Arndt beyond Minnesota and around the country. In the 1980s he recorded the presidential campaign of Walter Mondale and later on directed his attention to Chicago’s midwestern city life. Today, Arndt continues to document Minnesota, going every year to the Minnesota State Fair, one of his favorite places to take pictures.

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1. Arndt’s photographs of the presidential campaign of Minnesotan Walter Mondale are informal and relaxed.
Thomas F. Arndt, Mondale at Rally, St. Paul, 1984, gelatin silver print, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, gift of David and Mary Parker
2. Capturing a telling moment on film is the documentary photographer’s goal. Arndt snapped this image when a wrestling fan’s excitement peaked.
Thomas F. Arndt, Wrestling Fan, Minneapolis Auditorium, 1974, gelatin silver print, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, gift of the artist
3. Arndt caught this woman’s faraway expression and her sense of isolation in the fair stand where she works.
Thomas F. Arndt, Vendor, Minnesota State Fair, St. Paul, 1974, gelatin silver print, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, gift of the artist


March 2009