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Arthur Tress

United States Born in: 1940
Translation in progress

Arthur Tress was born in 1940 and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He lives and work in Cambria, California. He took his first photographs while still in elementary school in 1952. He attended Bard College where he studied art and art history, world culture and philosophy under Heinrich Bluecher. While studying, he continued to photograph and began making short films. He graduated in 1962 with a B.F.A.

After graduation from Bard, Tress moved to Paris to attend film school, but soon left. After traveling through Europe, Egypt, Japan, India and Mexico, he settled in Stockholm, Sweden and worked as a photographer at the Stockholm Ethnographic Museum.

In 1968 he moved back to New York with a commitment to becoming a professional photographer. He had his first one-person exhibition that year, "Appalachia--People and Places", which was held at the Smithsonian Institute and the Sierra Gallery (New York City). He then worked as a documentary photographer for V.I.S.T.A. from 1969-1970.

Arthur Tress was one of the first artists in the 1970s to break way from street photography and develop a more personal vision, which included manipulating that realty in front of him instead of being just a passive observer. Later, Tress began to use his camera to raise environmental awareness about the economic and human costs of pollution. Focusing on New York City, he began to photograph the neglected fringes of the urban waterfront with a straight documentary approach. This gradually evolved into a more personal mode of “magic realism,” combining improvised elements of actual life with stage fantasy that became his hallmark style of directorial fabrication.

In the late 1960s, Tress was inspired to do a series based upon children’s dreams that combined his interests in ritual ceremony, Jungian archetypes, and social allegory. Later bodies of work dealing with the hidden dramas of adult relationships and the reenactments of male homosexual desire evolved from this primarily theatrical approach.

His work has been published in several monographs, including Arthur Tress: The Dream Collector, Shadow: A Novel in Photographs, Theatre of the Mind, Reeves and Arthur Tress: Fantastic Voyage: Photographs 1956-2000. His work is in several major public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, George Eastman House, Centre Georges Pompidou, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Whitney Museum of American Art, and Art Institute of Chicago.
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