Life and work
The youngest of four children in a divorced family, Tress 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 and whose life was not nearly so luxurious. At age 12 he began to photograph circus freaks and dilapidated buildings around Coney Island in New York City, where he grew up.
Tress studied at Abraham Lincoln High School in Coney Island, and gained a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. After graduating from Bard College in 1962, Tress moved to Paris, France to attend film school. 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 Republican Convention that nominated Barry Goldwater, civil rights demonstrations at segregated car dealerships on Van Ness Avenue, and the Beatles launching their 1964 tour. Tress took over 900 photographs that were put away and re-discovered in 2009, and featured in a show at San Francisco's deYoung Museum.
He currently resides in San Francisco, California.
- 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: Edition Complexe, 1979.
- Talisman. Edited by Marco Livingstone. Oxford: Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, 1986.
- The Teapot Opera. Photographs and text by Arthur Tress.
- Goro International, 1986.
- Abbeville, 1988.
- Male of the Species: Four Decades of Photography by Arthur Tress. Text by Michale Tournier. Fotofactory Press, 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 Editions, 2003
- Arthur Tress: Facing Up. Top Choice, 2004.
- Arthur Tress San Francisco 1964 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]
Tress's work is held in the following public collections:
- Museum of Modern Art, New York
- Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
- International Museum of Photography and Film, George Eastman House, Rochester, New York
- Center for Contemporary Photography, Chicago, Illinois
- Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris, France
- Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France
- Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California
- Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas
- Whitney Museum of Art, New York
- San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California
- Goysdotter, Moa (2013). Impure Vision: American Staged Art Photography of the 1970s. Lund: Nordic Academic Press. ISBN 9789187351006.
- 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.