The cinematically inspired tableaus of Miles Aldridge; the homoerotic black-and-white shots by Tom of Finland; the vibrant portraiture of Hassan Hajjaj. These photographs all come together at Fotografiska, a branch of the Swedish photography museum of the same name in Manhattan’s Flatiron District. Known for its eclectic programming and new perspectives on modern photography, the museum has been redefining the medium since December 2019. Opened to much fanfare, Fotografiska is back and has offered Untapped New York Insiders a special look inside.

Fotografiska is located at 281 Park Avenue South in a Renaissance Revival-style former church. The museum is an offshoot of the original Stockholm location, which opened in 2010 and has featured exhibitions by photographers like Annie Leibovitz and Robert Mapplethorpe. The museum features no permanent collections, and none of the work is for sale. This model has allowed Fotografiska to respond quickly to ever-changing societal issues, movements and themes. The museum opened with exhibitions by leading photographers like Ellen von Unwerth, Tawny Chatmon, Helene Schmitz, Adi Nes, and Anastasia Taylor-Lind in partnership with TIME Magazine.

On June 3 and 27, explore all current exhibitions on view at Fotografiska on an Exhibition Manager led tour! Learn behind-the-scenes knowledge about the photographs on view and the artists who created them from the Exhibition Managers themselves. Tickets are free but exclusively for Untapped New York InsidersBecome a member today starting at just $10/month! For a special Memorial Day offer, you can get your first month free with code JOINUS.

Fotografiska Exhibition Tour

On this tour of Fotografiska, guests will get an insider perspective on the art and artists on view. Led by the Exhibition Managers, you will explore all five current exhibitions inside this innovative museum space. The building that houses Fotografiska was built in 1894 as the Church Missions House. Inside, the museum space incorporates original architectural elements including vaulted ceilings and stunning stained glass windows.

Exterior of the building / Courtesy of Fotografiska New York

In addition to showcasing an “unexpected mix of world-class art,” the museum also fosters a dining, music, nightlife, and retail scene. The restaurant, Verōnika, and cocktail lounge, V Bar, are operated by STARR Restaurants and designed by Roman and Williams.

Since the museum’s opening, curators have explored themes of death row exonerees, racist artifacts, living through a pandemic, and feminist identity. The museum is currently showcasing five exhibitions and topics like the Arab-American experience, exotic dancing, and nationality in a globalized world.

Fotografiska’s exterior / Courtesy of Fotografiska New York

Miles Aldridge’s Virgin Mary. Supermarkets. Popcorn. Photographs 1999 to 2020 features more than 50 works shot entirely on film. Virgin Mary references the history of religious paintings by Renaissance artists like Caravaggio, who make extensive use of lighting, costuming and staging to showcase their experiences. Supermarkets refers to the interest in our consumer society, leading us to change ourselves through products. Popcorn hints at the role of cinema in Aldridge’s work, drawing from directors such as Hitchcock, Lynch, and Fellini. The show spotlights his portraits of celebrities like Sophie Turner, Viola Davis, Michael Fassbender, and Donatella Versace.

Miles Aldridge at Fotografiska
Exhibition from Miles Aldridge, Photo by Dario Lasagni courtesy Fotografiska

VOGUE, The Arab Issue stresses bold colors and textures in re-examining cultural stereotypes. Photographer Hassan Hajjaj was inspired in the 1990s while assisting his stylist friend on a fashion shoot in Marrakech. Hajjaj asked local women to pose wearing his creations, such as traditional Moroccan djellabas, hijabs, and babouches covered with candy-colored polka dots, and counterfeit brand logos, in the streets of the Medina. Hajjaj purposefully parodied poses of Western models to break from the status quo.

Fotografiska exhibit Hassan Hajjaj
VOGUE, The Arab Issue  with photographer Hassan Hajjaj. Photo courtesy Fotografiska.

Fotografiska produced The Darkroom in celebration of the 100th birthday of Tom of Finland, born Touko Laaksonen. Tom of Finland, who passed away in 1991, was known for his homoerotic drawings, and the exhibition features photographic portraits that he used as reference images. Because homosexuality was criminalized in Finland while he was working, the photographs were confined to Tom of Finland’s home studio and darkroom. Tom of Finland, portrayed masculine, attractive, confident men in homoerotic poses, which challenged many norms of contemporary society. His use of leather and fetish gear still draws criticism, however.

Adrienne Raquel’s ONYX challenges negative perceptions of exotic dancing, showcasing femininity, sisterhood, self-transformation, and strength. Raquel would capture dancers through portraiture and environmental vignettes in their most vulnerable yet powerful moments. The exhibition takes its name from Club Onyx in Houston, where she captured dancers in their candid and intimate environment. Raquel’s work goes beyond capturing the glamour of her subjects—she highlights the nuances of strip club culture while shedding light on relationship dynamics between dancers.

© Pixy Liao, Bed Wrestling (2019)

Pixy Liao’s Your Gaze Belongs to Me is part of an ongoing, long-term project called Experimental Relationship. Her portraiture focuses on modern partnerships, challenging conventional sociocultural ideas of gender constructions and nationality in a globalized world. More than 50 of Liao’s works will be featured in the exhibition, many inspired by her own relationship with a Japanese musician in 2006. Her photographs have a “vintage aesthetic” in which she plays a more dynamic and dominant role, while her boyfriend is more submissive. Her reversing of gender roles is further shown through sculptural and video works that accompany the photographs.

Beyond just the exhibitions, the museum hosts events like Art Talks with the artists featured, Midweek Mindfulness, and film screenings. Under the museum’s “Foto Sessions” section, the museum has compiled artist talks and posted virtual galleries, such as Martin Schoeller’s A Million More which features portraits and audio recordings that portray traumatic experiences of survivors saved by safety belts.

Fotografiska aims to redefine modern photography and tackle major societal issues through eclectic curation. On June 3 and 27, join guides Meredith Breech, Grace Noh, and María Sprowls Cervantes at our Fotografiska Exhibition Tour. Learn more about the five current exhibitions and the Exhibition Managers themselves, and explore the museum building’s stunning architectural features.

Fotografiska on Park Avenue

Fotografiska Exhibition Tour

Next, check out 10 New Public Art Installations in NYC, May 2021!