Arthur Tress

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Arthur Tress
Born (1940-11-24) November 24, 1940 (age 79)
Alma materBard College (BFA)
Home townConey Island, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.

Arthur Tress (born November 24, 1940) is an American photographer.[1] He is known for his staged surrealism[1][2] and exposition of the human body.

Early life and education[edit]

Photograph by Tress of an abandoned car and unfinished apartment house at Breezy Point, Queens, in 1973. It was taken for the Environmental Protection Agency's Documerica program to photographically document subjects of environmental concern.

Tress comes from a Jewish background; his parents immigrated from Europe.[1] He was born in Brooklyn, New York. He The youngest of four children in a divorced family, he spent time in his early life with both his father, who remarried and lived in an upper-class neighborhood, and his mother, who remained single after the divorce.[3] At age 12, he began to photograph circus freaks and dilapidated buildings around Coney Island in New York City, where he grew up. He has said that "growing up as a gay man in the 1950s was not easy, especially at school."[1]

Tress attended Abraham Lincoln High School in Coney Island. He studied painting at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York,[1] earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1962. After graduation he moved to Paris to attend film school, but soon dropped out.


While living in France, he traveled to Japan, Africa, Mexico, and throughout Europe. He observed many secluded tribes and cultures and was fascinated by the roles played by the shaman of the different groups of people. The cultures to which he was introduced would play a role in his later work. Tress spent the spring and summer of 1964 in San Francisco, documenting the 1964 Republican National Convention that nominated Barry Goldwater, civil rights demonstrations at segregated car dealerships on Van Ness Avenue, and The Beatles' 1964 world tour.[3] Tress took over 900 photographs that were later shelved until 2009 when he rediscovered a stack of vintage prints while organising his sister's estate after her death.[3] The work was subsequently exhibited at San Francisco's de Young Museum.[4][5]

In the late 1960s, he made a series of surreal photographs about children's dreams, using staged scenarios.[1][6]

Tress resided in Cambria, California for 25 years, and now lives in San Francisco.[7]


Tress's photograph of boys playing on a municipal incineration plant and landfill dump at Gravesend Bay, taken for the Documerica program.
  • Open Space in the Inner City: Ecology and the Urban Environment. New York: New York State Council on the Arts, 1971
  • Arthur Tress: The Dream Collector. Text by John Minahan.
    • Richmond: Westover, 1972.
    • New York: Avon, 1974.
  • Shadow. A Novel in Photographs. New York: Avon, 1975
  • Theater of the Mind. Text by Duane Michaels, Michel Tournier and A.D. Coleman. Dobbs Ferry: Morgan and Morgan, 1976.
  • Reves. Text by Michel Tournier. Brussels: Complexe, 1979.
  • Talisman. Edited by Marco Livingstone. Oxford: Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, 1986.
  • The Teapot Opera. Photographs and text by Arthur Tress.
  • Male of the Species: Four Decades of Photography by Arthur Tress. Text by Michale Tournier. Fotofactory, 1999.
  • Fish Tank Sonata. Bulfinch, 2000.
  • Arthur Tress: Fantastic Voyage: Photographs 1956-2000. Bulfinch, 2001.
  • Memories. Photographs by Arthur Tress, Poems by Guillaume Apollinaire. 21st, 2003
  • Arthur Tress: Facing Up. Top Choice, 2004.
  • Arthur Tress San Francisco 1964[8] by James Ganz. Prestel USA, 2012.
  • Arthur Tress: Transréalités. France: Contrejour. 2013.
  • Egypt 1963 One. Southport, England: Café Royal, 2014. Edition of 150 copies.[n 1]
  • Egypt 1963 Two. Southport, England: Café Royal, 2014. Edition of 150 copies.[n 1]
  • The Circle of The Orange Rubber Traffic Cone, Pot Holder, 2019. Edition of 120 copies.


Tress's photograph of school children on their way home in Great Kills, on Staten Island, taken for the Documerica program.

Tress's work is held in the following public collections:


Further reading[edit]

  • Goysdotter, Moa (2013). Impure Vision: American Staged Art Photography of the 1970s. Lund: Nordic Academic Press. ISBN 9789187351006.


  1. ^ a b Web page: "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-08-06. Retrieved 2014-08-18.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)


  1. ^ a b c d e f Andreasson, Karin (26 March 2015). "Arthur Tress's best photograph: a boy from the Boston ghetto hides with a gun". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-12-31 – via
  2. ^ Hirsch, Robert; Erf, Greg (CON) (2010-12-28). Exploring Color Photography: From Film to Pixels. Focal Press. p. 78. ISBN 978-0-240-81335-6. Retrieved 29 August 2011.
  3. ^ a b c Gantz, James A. (30 October 2015). "San Francisco, 1964: Civil Rights, Beatlemania and the Goldwater Campaign". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2019-12-31 – via
  4. ^ Hamlin, Jesse (2012-03-22). "'Arthur Tress: San Francisco 1964' at the de Young". SFGate. Retrieved 2019-11-18.
  5. ^ "'Arthur Tress: San Francisco 1964'". The New York Times. 2012-04-04. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-11-18.
  6. ^ Carlson, Jen (11 June 2014). "The Amazing Arthur Tress Shares His Dark, Surreal Photographs From The 1970s". Gothamist. Archived from the original on 31 December 2019. Retrieved 2019-12-31.
  7. ^ Dennis, Patrick (July 19, 2019). "Q&A: Acclaimed photographer, former Cambria resident reflects on fame, evolution of art". The Tribune (San Luis Obispo). Retrieved November 17, 2019.
  8. ^ "Arthur Tress – San Francisco 1964". PhotoBook Journal. 2012-04-13. Retrieved 2019-10-01.
  9. ^ Tress – via BnF Catalogue général (
  10. ^ Tournier, Michel. Rêves. Bruxelles [Paris]: Éditions Complexe [diffusion Presses universitaires de France. ISBN 978-2-87027-040-0 – via BnF Catalogue général (
  11. ^ "Arthur Tress". Centre Pompidou. Retrieved 2019-12-31.
  12. ^ "Works: Arthur Tress". George Eastman House. Retrieved 2019-12-31.
  13. ^ Honolulu Museum of Art, Girl in a Cage, 1980, accession 19904
  14. ^ "Arthur Tress". Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Retrieved 2019-12-31.
  15. ^ "Search the Collection". Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved 2019-12-31.
  16. ^ "Tress, Arthur". Museum of Contemporary Photography. Retrieved 2019-12-31.
  17. ^ "Search the Collection". Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Retrieved 2019-12-31.
  18. ^ "Arthur Tress". San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved 2019-12-31.
  19. ^ "Arthur Tress". Whitney Museum of Art. Retrieved 2019-12-31.
  20. ^ "The Lucie Awards: Arthur Tress". Retrieved 2019-12-31.

External links[edit]