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Critically-acclaimed photographer Arthur Tress' early work on exhibit at RoseGallery

SANTA MONICA, CA.- In the summer of 1964, San Francisco was ground zero for a historic culture clash as the site of the twenty-eighth Republican National Convention (the “Goldwater Convention”), the launch of the Beatle’s first North American tour and civil rights demonstrations. In the midst of the excitement, a young photographer new to the city was snapping pictures not of the politicians or musicians but of the people in the crowds and on the streets. Arthur Tress, who went on to become one of America’s most accomplished photographers, known for his dreamlike and surreal imagery, created what is perhaps his first mature documentary work. Finding himself immersed in a hotbed of cultural and political transformation, Tress shot over nine hundred negatives. Exulting in juxtapositions of the mundane and the absurd, he captured a wide array of city life including political rallies, street portraits, and a miscellany of odd signage that effectively fixes time and place.

Tress developed and printed his black and white negatives in a communal darkroom in the city’s Castro district before leaving San Francisco in the fall of 1964. The vintage prints were stored in his sister’s home, where they remained untouched until 2009. The rediscovery of this forgotten body of photographs inspired the photographer to revisit his early negatives and “Arthur Tress San Francisco 1964” is the delightful outcome. The work publically debuted in a major exhibition at the de Young Museum in San Francisco from March 3 – June 3, 2012 and is now available in the companion monograph Arthur Tress San Francisco 1964 published by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and DelMonico Books/Prestel, 2012.

Born in 1940, Arthur Tress was raised in Brooklyn, NY, and started experimenting with photography in his teens. After receiving his B.F.A. from Bard College in 1962 Tress traveled internationally for four years as an ethnographic and documentary photographer. It was during this tour that he spent the summer of 1964 in San Francisco, focusing his lens on city life. His first one-person exhibition was held simultaneously at the Smithsonian Institute and at the Sierra Gallery, NYC in 1968. In 1971 and 1976 Tress was the recipient of grants from the New York State Council on the Arts and a National Endowment for the Arts Grant in 1972. He is noted as one of the first artists of the 1970’s to break away from street photography to develop a more personal vision characterized by his willingness to manipulate reality and to utilize the photographic medium in an expressive style.

Tress’ photographs have been the subject of exhibitions and retrospectives worldwide and are housed in permanent collections including those at the Museum of Modern Art, NY; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; the Whitney Museum of Art, NY; LACMA, SFMoMA; Centre Georges Pompidou; Bibliotheque Nationale; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and the International Museum of Photography, Rochester, NY, to name a few.

Monographs of his work include Arthur Tress: The Dream Collector, 1972; Theater of the Mind, 1976; Arthur Tress: Fantastic Voyage – Photographs 1956-2000, 2001; Memories: Photographs by Arthur Tress, Poems by Guillaume Apollinaire, 21st Editions, 2003.

A selection of contemporary and vintage prints from “Arthur Tress: San Francisco 1964” are on view at ROSEGALLERY from 14 July – 01 September, 2012.

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