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Arthur Tress
Arthur Tress, Triple Self-Portrait 1956/1995/2013, 2013
Arthur Tress
Arthur Tress

Arthur Tress

Country: United States
Birth: 1940

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

Tress was born in Brooklyn, New York. 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.

Source: Wikipedia



Arthur Tress began his first camera work as a teenager in the surreal neighborhood of Coney Island where he spent hours exploring the decaying amusement parks. Later, during five years of world travel, mostly in Asia and Africa, he developed an interest in ethnographical photography that eventually led him to his first professional assignment as a U.S. government photographer recording the endangered folk cultures of Appalachia. Seeing the destructive results of corporate resource extraction, 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.

Beginning in the early 1980s, Tress began shooting in color, creating room-sized painted sculptural installations out of found medical equipment in an abandoned hospital on New York's Welfare Island. This led to a smaller scale exploration of narrative still life within a children's toy theater and a portable nineteenth-century aquarium.

Around 2002, Tress returned to gelatin silver, exploring more formalist themes in the style of mid- century modernism, often combining a spontaneous shooting style with a constructivist's sense of architectural composition and abstract shape. In addition to images of California skateboard parks, his recent work includes the round images of the series Planets and the diamond-shaped images of Pointers.

Source: www.arthurtress.com

 

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He quickly became immersed in his work and taught classes three days a week, lectured on art of local students, reviewed exhibitions for the local newspaper and delivered a weekly radio broadcast about activities at the Art Center. In his spare time he traveled throughout the region, taking photographs of the landscape, farms and small town buildings. He also wrote his first article on photography, "When is Photography Creative?," which was published in American Photography magazine two years later. White resigned from the Art Center in late 1941 and returned to Portland where he intended to start a commercial photography business. That year three of his photographs were accepted by the Museum of Modern Art in New York for inclusion in their "Image of Freedom" exhibition. At the close of the exhibition the museum purchased all three prints, the first time his images entered a public collection. 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Soon after Aperture magazine was founded by many of these same individuals. White volunteered for and was approved as editor, and the first issue appeared in April 1952. Aperture quickly became one of the most influential magazines about photography, and White remained as editor until 1975. Near the end of 1952 White's father, from whom he had been estranged for many years, died in Long Beach, California. In 1953 Walter Chappell introduced White to the I Ching, an ancient Chinese book of philosophy and divination, and White continued to be influenced by and refer to this text throughout the rest of his life. He was especially intrigued by the concepts of yin and yang, in which apparently opposite or contrary forces may be conceived as complementary. Later that same year a reorganization at CSFS resulted in White's teaching role being cut back, and as a result he began to think about a change in his employment. Concurrently, Beaumont Newhall had recently become the curator at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York, and Newhall invited White to work with him there as a curatorial assistant. He exhibited September 28 - November 3 1954 at Limelight Gallery in New York and was included in that gallery's Great Photographs at the end of that year.[16] Over the next three years White organized three themed exhibitions[where?] that demonstrated his particular interests: Camera Consciousness, The Pictorial Image and Lyrical and Accurate. In 1955 he joined the faculty at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), where he taught one day a week. White's photographic output declined during this time due to his teaching and editorial work, but he continued to produce enough images that by the end of 1955 he had created a new sequence, Sequence 10/Rural Cathedrals, which included landscape images from upstate New York that were shot on regular and infrared film. By 1955 White was fully engaged in teaching, having been appointed as instructor at the new four-year photography program at RIT as well as conducting classes and workshops at Ohio University and Indiana University. Walter Chappell moved to Rochester later in the year to work at the George Eastman House. Chappell engaged White in long discussions about various Eastern religions and philosophies. White began practicing Zen meditation and adopted a Japanese style of decoration in his house. Over the next two years the discussions between White and Chappell metamorphosed into lengthy discourses about the writing and philosophy of George Gurdjieff. White gradually became an adherent of Gurdjieff's teachings and started to incorporate Gurdjieff's thinking into the design and implementation of his workshops. 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From his experience in Portland he developed the idea for a full-time residential workshop in Rochester in which students would learn through both formal sessions and, following a combination of thinking from Gurdjieff and from Zen, through an understanding gained by the discipline of such tasks as household chores and early morning workouts. He would continue this style of residential teaching until he died. In the early 1960s White also studied hypnosis and incorporated the practice into some of his teachings as a way of helping students experience photographs. White continued to teach extensively both privately and at RIT for the next several years. During this time he traveled across the U.S. in the summers taking photographs along the way. In his journal he referred to himself during this period as "The Wanderer," which had both literal and metaphorical meanings due to his search for understanding life. In 1962 he met Michael Hoffman, who became a friend, colleague and, later, assumed the editorship of Aperture magazine. White later named Hoffman to be the executor of his will. In 1965 White was invited to help design a newly formed program in visual arts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, near Boston. After being appointed as a Visiting Professor, White moved to the Boston area and purchased a 12-room house in suburban Arlington so he could increase the size of his residential workshops for selected students. Soon after moving to the Boston area, he completed a different kind of sequence called Slow Dance, which he would later integrate into his teachings. He continued to explore how people understand and interpret photography and began to incorporate techniques of Gestalt psychology into his teachings. In order to help his students experience the meaning of "equivalence," he started requiring them to draw certain subjects as well as photograph them. White began to experience periodic discomfort in his chest in 1966, and his doctor diagnosed his ailment as angina. His symptoms continued throughout the rest of his life, leading him to intensify his study of spiritual matters and meditation. He turned to astrology in an attempt to increase his understanding about life, and his interest in it became so significant that he required all of his current and prospective students to have their horoscopes completed. By this point in his life White's unorthodox teaching methods were well established, and students who went through his workshops were both mystified and enlightened by the experience. One student who later became a Zen monk said "I really wanted to learn to see the way he did, to capture my subjects in a way that didn't render them lifeless and two-dimensional. I didn't realize that Minor was teaching us exactly that: not only to see images, but to feel them, smell them, taste them. He was teaching us how to be photography." White began writing the text for Mirrors, Messages, Manifestations, which was the first monograph of his photographs, in late 1966, and three years later the book was published by Aperture. It included 243 of his photographs and text, including poems, notes from his journal and other writings. Peter Bunnell, who was one of White's early students and then Curator of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art, wrote a lengthy biography of White for the book. During this same time White completed Sequence 1968, a series of landscape images from his recent travels. During the next several years White conceived of and directed four major themed photography exhibitions at MIT, starting with "Light7" in 1968 and followed by "Be-ing without Clothes" in 1970, "Octave of Prayer" in 1972 and "Celebrations" in 1974. Anyone could submit images for the shows, and White spent a great deal of time personally reviewing all of the submissions and selecting the final images. White continued to teach extensively and make his own photographs even though his health was declining. He devoted more and more time to his writing and began a long text he called "Consciousness in Photography and the Creative Audience," in which he referred to his 1965 sequence Slow Dance and advanced the idea that certain states of heightened awareness were necessary to truly read a photograph and understand its meaning. In order to complete this work he applied for and received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1970, and Consciousness in Photography and the Creative Audience became required reading for a new course he taught at MIT called "Creative Audience." in 1971 he traveled to Puerto Rico to explore more of his color photography, and in 1974 and 1975 he journeyed to Peru to teach and to further his own Gurdjieff studies. In 1975 White traveled to England to lecture at the Victoria and Albert Museum and to teach classes at various colleges. He continued on a hectic travel schedule for several weeks, then flew directly to the University of Arizona in Tucson to take part in a symposium there. When he returned to Boston after nearly six weeks of travel, he suffered a heart attack and was hospitalized for several weeks. After this White's focus turned even more inward, and he photographed very little. He spent much of his time with his student Abe Frajndlich, who made a series of situational portraits of White around his home and in his garden. A few months before his death White published a short article in Parabola magazine called "The Diamond Lens of Fable" in which he associated himself with Gilgamesh, Jason and King Arthur, all heroes of old tales about lifelong quests. On June 24, 1976, White died of a second heart attack while working at his home. He bequeathed all of his personal archives and papers, along with a large collection of his photographs, to Princeton University. He left his house to Aperture so they could continue the work he started there. Source: Wikipedia
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