Arthur Tress (Nov. 24, 1940- ) has had an extremely active career and is well published, with much of his work incorporating
his role as both director and photographer. His photographs engage a rich visual symbolism, often presenting dream-like, childhood
states. He has also documented San Francisco in the 1960s and composed and photographed fantasy toy stage settings, such as
the Teapot Opera. Over his career his work has been constantly inventive, often playful, always psychologically probing. Born
in Brooklyn in 1940, Tress began his photography career as a teenager, photographing the dilapidated buildings and denizens
of Coney Island. Early on he developed an interest in ethnographic photography and the production of photographic narratives,
which led to a commission from the New York State Council on the Arts to produce Open space in the inner city; ecology and
the urban environment (1971). His book, The Dream collector (1972), with staged photographic work based on his interviews
with children and employing these same children to perform their dreams is now considered a classic in the photobook literature.
With Theater of the mind (1976) Tress moved to adult fantasies and begins a period of overtly erotic work. In Facing up (alternatively
titled Phallic phantasy, (1980), Tress moved to overtly gay photographic work. In more recent years Tress has continued in
the “directorial mode,” and worked in color with miniature stage settings, producing The Teapot opera and the Fish tank sonata.
He continues to actively photograph and exhibit.
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