Arthur Tress

Arthur Tress was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1940. He is one of the first photographers who abandoned mere street photographic style when documentary photography was the major trend in the field during the 1970’s. Tress’s theatrical and surreal style stages his sitter with found objects on site and has become a hallmark of his photography. The beginning of such style can be traced from his earliest works from when he was twelve years old. Tress spent hours with his Rolleicord in abandoned houses and decaying amusement parks around New York.

After his graduation from Bard College in 1962, where he studied art history, world culture and philosophy, Tress spent six years traveling around the world documenting tribal people and their cultures as an ethnographic photographer. Tress does not merely record his subjects and their surroundings; He developed a highly personal and subjective approach towards photography by combining documentary photography with his imagination and sensitivity to oppression, intimidation and distress felt by people on the fringe of society. His works not only reflect his internal experience as a homosexual Jewish during boyhood, but also the existing powerlessness felt by his subjects due to subjugation and segregation.


  • Arthur Tress


    Arthur Tress

    I took these three images during the late 1960's and early 70's as part of a portrait series on urban teenagers around New York.

    My empathy and rapport with these young people goes back to my own not too distant memories of the particularly difficult experiences I had during the complicated transition between a carefree childhood and becoming a responsible adult.
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