Arthur Tress (b. 1940) is a singular figure in the landscape of postwar American photography. His seminal series, The Dream Collector, depicts Tress’s interests in dreams, nightmares, fantasies, and the unconscious and established him as one of the foremost proponents of magical realism at a time when few others were doing staged photography.
This volume presents the first critical look at Tress’s early career, contextualizing the highly imaginative, fantastic work he became known for while also examining his other interrelated series: Appalachia: People and Places; Open Space in the Inner City; Shadow; and Theater of the Mind. James A. Ganz, Mazie M. Harris, and Paul Martineau plumb Tress’s work and archives, studying ephemera, personal correspondence, unpublished notes, diaries, contact sheets, and more to uncover how he went from earning his living as a social documentarian in Appalachia to producing surreal work of “imaginative fiction.” This abundantly illustrated volume imparts a fuller understanding of Tress’s career and the New York photographic scene of the 1960s and 1970s.
This volume is published to accompany an exhibition on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center from October 31, 2023, to February 18, 2024.
“Along with several others of his cohort, Arthur Tress spearheaded the resurgence of the directorial mode in the 1970s, as well as his generation's engagement with previously taboo subject matter. With his unique blend of documentary and surrealist approaches, he has made a major contribution to his medium.”
—A. D. Coleman, photography critic and historian