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The Getty Center : Arthur Tress : Rambles, Dreams, and Shadows


Getty Publications releases Arthur Tress : Rambles, Dreams, and Shadows on the occasion of the exhibition at the Getty Center which opens tomorrow. This richly illustrated volume is the first critical look at the early career of Arthur Tress, a key proponent of magical realism and staged photography.

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.

Born in Brooklyn and educated at Bard College, Tress traveled the world in the mid-1960s and afterward established himself as a commercial photographer in New York City. He earned his living by placing his diverse portfolio of images with advertising and stock photo agencies, including Photo Researchers Inc. and Magnum, while securing environmentalist and social documentary commissions from VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) and the Sierra Club. At the same time, he embarked on a series of increasingly radical photobook and exhibition projects that delved deeper into the world of surrealism and magical realism.

Arthur Tress: Rambles, Dreams, and Shadows (J. Paul Getty Museum, November 2023) contextualizes the highly imaginative, fantastic work for which he became known and also examines his other interrelated series undertaken between 1968 and 1978: 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Ganz, Mazie M. Harris, and Paul Martineau plumb Tress’s work and archive, studying ephemera, personal correspondence, unpublished notes, diaries, contact sheets, and more to uncover how he went from earning his living as a social documentarian in Appalachia to producing surreal work of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.



The J. Paul Getty Museum holds an extensive collection of work from Tress’s initial decade of activity, including the master set of The Dream Collector. This volume accompanies an exhibition on view at the Getty Center from October 31, 2023, to February 18, 2024.

James A. Ganz is senior curator in the Department of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Mazie M. Harris is assistant curator in the Department of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Paul Martineau is associate curator in the Department of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

The Getty Center
1200 Getty Center Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90049


Publication Information:

Arthur Tress: Rambles, Dreams, and Shadows
J. Paul Getty Museum
264 pages, 9 ½ x 11 inches
17 color and 198 b/w illustrations
ISBN: 978-1-60606-861-8
US $60.00/ UK £50.00

Publication Date: November 21, 2023



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