glbtq: an encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender & queer culture
home
arts
literature
social sciences
special features
discussion
about glbtq
   search

 
   Encyclopedia
   Discussion
 
 

   member name
  
   password
  
 
   
   Forgot Your Password?  
   
Not a Member Yet?  
   
JOIN TODAY. IT'S FREE!

 
  Advertising Opportunities
  Permissions & Licensing
  Terms of Service
  Privacy Policy
  Copyright

 

 

 

 

 
arts

Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-B  C-E  F-L  M-Z

     
Tress, Arthur (b. 1940)  

The uncompromising, poetic imagery of American photographer Arthur Tress is the stuff of dreams, called forth from the artist's reckoning with the world and his place in it.

A New Yorker, Tress was born on November 24, 1940. He began his photographic career at age twelve, making snapshots of dilapidated mansions and Coney Island decay. An introverted child of divorce, Tress moved between two worlds--his lower-class mother's neighborhoods and his nouveau riche, remarried father's more prosperous one, observing and eventually photographing both milieus.

Sponsor Message.

As he recalls, from a very young age he was already aware that his sexuality was different from most of his classmates and he was drawn to subject matter that was similarly marginalized and different.

During his studies at Bard College, Tress explored painting and filmmaking but was ultimately committed to still photography. Although he worked in a documentary style, from the beginning his imagery was characterized by a surrealist sensibility.

After graduation Tress traveled the world, in part financed by his father and also supporting himself by making ethnographic and documentary images. During his travels he became increasingly influenced by his experience of other cultures, particularly in matters of spirituality and consciousness.

Tress's first book, The Dream Collector (1972), was an attempt to visualize children's dreams, often featuring children whom Tress had interviewed as models. His second book, Shadow: A Novel in Photographs (1975), showed "portraits" of the photographer's shadow and explored the idea that the shadow literally and metaphorically represented one's dark side.

Theater of the Mind (1976), which included an essay by his friend and mentor, gay photographer Duane Michals, explored adult fantasies and marked the introduction in Tress's work of overtly erotic imagery. As Tress explained, he sought to make "photographs [that] attempt to make explicit . . . sexual passions and ironies," albeit with spiritual dimensions.

Early on Tress began to incorporate fabricated and staged imagery. His deliberate combination of document with fabrication supports a desire to bear witness to his life--so crucial to many gays and lesbians--but not to be beholden to a particular kind of representation or aesthetic.

Tress's most famous image, Stephan Brecht, Bride and Groom (1970), of the actor in character for his role in The Grand Tarot, is an eloquent, enigmatic exploration of gender and identity that neither denies nor embraces either.

Around 1972 Tress consciously began to include what he called "the more intimate spheres of a gay sexuality and fantasy life." Facing Up (1977-1980), alternately titled Phallic Phantasy, was Tress's first explicitly conscious exploration of his sexuality in which he exclusively photographed male nudes.

Many of these images were included in Tress's homoerotic homage, Male of the Species: Four Decades of Photography of Arthur Tress (1999), which culls imagery from Tress's forty-year career of exploring the male body and sexuality. The sensual photographs, sequenced in a loose narrative of experience from youth to death, matter-of-factly infuse male sexuality with humor and irony.

In contrast, Tress's obsessive constructions made and photographed for the Hospital series (1984-1987) are a garish, nightmarish reckoning with health-related issues and death in the era of AIDS.

In 2001 the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. (the same museum that achieved notoriety for canceling a controversial Robert Mapplethorpe retrospective in 1989) mounted a retrospective exhibition of Tress's photographs with an accompanying catalog.

Carla Williams

     

    
 interact  
   
Contact Us
 
Join the Discussion
 
 find 
   
Related Entries
 
More Entries by this contributor
 
A Bibliography on this Topic

 
Citation Information
 
More Entries about The Arts
 
   
spacer
Popular Topics:

Social Sciences

 
Stonewall Riots
Stonewall Riots


Gay Liberation Front


The Sexual Revolution, 1960-1980
The Sexual Revolution, 1960-1980


Leather Culture


Anthony, Susan B.
Anthony, Susan B.


Africa: Sub-Saharan, Pre-Independence


Androgyny
Androgyny


Russia


Computers, the Internet, and New Media


Radicalesbians

 
 


   Related Entries
  
arts >> Overview:  Photography: Gay Male, Post-Stonewall

Post-Stonewall gay male photography merits recognition for its contribution to fine art, documentation, photo-journalism, and advertising, as well as erotica.

arts >> Hujar, Peter

Photographer Peter Hujar created stark, stunning, affecting , and sometimes disturbing images in black and white.

arts >> Mapplethorpe, Robert

American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe's controversial images typically combine rigorously formal composition and design with extreme subject matter.

arts >> Michals, Duane

American photographer Duane Michals represents same-sex love and spirituality as compellingly as he does same-sex desire.

arts >> Teske, Edmund

American photographer Edmund Teske created a distinct and inventive body of work that embraced multiple styles and subjects, from somber urban vistas to intimate, often eroticized, portraits.

arts >> Tillmans, Wolfgang

An important contemporary photographer, Wolfgang Tillmans synthesizes classic photographic genres, but has also pioneered in his photographic installations by utilizing innovative methods of presentation.


    Bibliography
   

Tress, Arthur, with essay by Yves Navarre. Arthur Tress: Facing Up. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1980.

_____. Arthur Tress: Fantastic Voyage: Photographs 1956-2000. Richard Lorenz and John Wood, eds. New York: Bulfinch Press, 2001.

_____, with text by John Minahan. The Dream Collector. Richmond, Va.: Westover Publishing Company, 1972.

_____. Fish Tank Sonata. Boston: Bulfinch Press, 2000.

_____. Male of the Species: Four Decades of Photography of Arthur Tress. David Sprigle, ed. Santa Monica, Calif.: FotoFactory Press, 1999.

_____. Shadow. New York: Avon Books, 1975.

_____. The Teapot Opera: In Three Acts. New York: Abbeville Press, Inc., 1988.

_____, with text by Duane Michals et al. Theater of the Mind. Dobbs Ferry, N. Y.: Morgan and Morgan, 1976.

Weiermair, Peter, ed. Arthur Tress. Zurich: Edition Stemmle, 1995.

http://www.arthurtress.com

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Williams, Carla  
    Entry Title: Tress, Arthur  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated February 6, 2004  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/arts/tress_a.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc.  
 

 

This Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc.

www.glbtq.com is produced by glbtq, Inc., 1130 West Adams Street, Chicago, IL   60607 glbtq™ and its logo are trademarks of glbtq, Inc.
This site and its contents Copyright © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.
Your use of this site indicates that you accept its Terms of Service.