The Photography Of Arthur Tress
The Halloween Post You Didn't Know You Needed.
Arthur Tress has arrived in Los Angeles.
I marked on my calendar this year to post about this photographer’s work on Halloween, and I wish I’d gotten around to writing it last week as I intended, because I’d have known I could have met him last night in Los Angeles.
The good news is — he’s going to be here a bunch, including at a book signing event at the Getty Center in Los Angeles tomorrow. Tickets are free.
I can’t say for sure the first time I saw his work, but it was surely on the internet. For all its many ills, the best part of the internet has always been finding new art, and artists.
He creates elaborate photographic re-imaginings of the nightmares of children. The work was disturbing, compelling and foreign to anything I ever shoot because they are so staged.
It’s as difficult to creep someone out in a photo as it is in a comic book panel.
At a minimum every photographer is collaborating with light, scene subject and timing, and Arthur Tress added any number of X-factors to every photo.
In the late sixties Tress set out to capture the nightmares of children. He obviously had the trust of these kids, and the purity of intent comes across — Arthur feels like he becomes the medium for the children.
There are some photos that remind me of images I’ve asked for my comic collaborators to draw — but the notion of actually staging photos like this is so foreign and so difficult that I can’t help but lose myself in his fictitious worlds.
His staged photos have an authenticity that you can’t possibly explain. Tress is the subject of a documentary arriving about Arthur Tress later this year. The trailer is here.
Tress accomplished much since his nightmare photos of the 1960’s including a tremendous body of queer work. He shot the first pride parade in NYC, and it’s those photos that will likely define Tress, and not the ones I’m sharing on Halloween.
If you’re in Los Angeles between now and the end of the year, check out the Getty. I’m glad that Arthur Tress is having a moment in his late innings while he’s still here and we can appreciate him in person.