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Arthur Tress collection

Identifier: AG 149

Scope and Contents

The Arthur Tress collection comprises two series and contains materials that include props, correspondence, publication material, exhibition material, and audiovisual material.

Series 1, Props, contains photography props used in various projects by Tress, including “Fish Tank Sonata” and “Tea Pot Opera.”

Series 2, Activity files, contains various materials related to the life and career of Tress, including correspondence, books, exhibition materials, audiovisual materials, publication materials, Tress’ personal library, a collection of political cartoons, and posters.

There are three appendices: Appendix A, Arthur Tress Personal Library; Appendix B, Props Inventory by Title of Work; and Appendix C, Tress Political Cartoon Collection. Appendix A contains an inventory of books and publications donated to the CCP by Arthur Tress, including materials which have been annotated by Tress. Appendix B describes props used by Tress, organized by photographic project. Appendix C identifies the political cartoons in Tress’ collection.


  • bulk 1969-2014


Language of Materials

Material in English

Conditions Governing Access

To access materials from this collection, please contact

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to use any unpublished text or correspondence must be obtained from Arthur Tress or his estate.

It is the responsibility of the user to obtain permission from the copyright owner (which could be the institution, the creator of the record, the author or his/her transferees, heirs, legates or literary executors) prior to any copyright-protected uses of the collection.

The user agrees to indemnify, defend, and hold harmless the Arizona Board of Regents, the University of Arizona, Center of Creative Photography, including its officers, employees, and agents, from and against all claims made relating to copyright or other intellectual property infringement

Biographical Note

Arthur Tress is a surrealist photographer, best known for his staged photographs and published books including the monographs, "Arthur Tress: The Dream Collector," "Shadow: A Novel in Photographs," "Theatre of the Mind,” "Reeves," and "Arthur Tress: Fantastic Voyage: Photographs 1956-2000."

Arthur Tress grew up in Coney Island, New York and first started taking photos at age 12. After graduating from Abraham Lincoln High School, he gained a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. In 1962, Tress moved to Paris, France to attend film school. From there Tress had left school to travel through Europe, Egypt, Japan, India and Mexico where he studied the various cultures and their rituals. Finally, he settled in Stockholm, Sweden and worked as a photographer at the Stockholm Ethnographic Museum.

In 1968 he moved back to New York to pursue a career in photography. Arthur Tress was one of the first to develop a style which combines fantasy and reality to create illusions for the viewer. He had his first one-person exhibition that year, "Appalachia--People and Places", which was held at the Smithsonian Institute and the Sierra Gallery (New York City). He then worked as a documentary photographer for V.I.S.T.A. from 1969-1970.

Tress exhibited his series "Open Space in the Inner City" at the same Sierra Gallery in 1970 and received a New York State Council on the Arts grant for the series the next year. In 1972 he got a National Endowment for the Arts grant for his "Dream Collector" series. In 1976 he received a second New York State Council on the Arts grant for his "Theater of the Mind" series.

In 1994 Arthur Tress gifted the Center for Creative Photography with Photography props, correspondence, manuscripts, book layouts, publicity, exhibition materials. The CPP exhibited "Arthur Tress: The Wurlitzer Trilogy" in 1995, which in early 2002 traveled to the College of Santa Fe.

Tress currently resides in San Francisco, California.


24 Linear Feet

Metadata Rights Declarations

  • License: This record is made available under an Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Creative Commons license.


Photography props, correspondence, manuscripts, book layouts, publicity, exhibition materials, and books created and collected by photographer Arthur Tress (born 1940). The bulk of the collection consists of props used by Tress in his series “Fish Tank Sonata” and “Tea Pot Opera.” Additional materials include publications annotated by Tress with notes, underlining, and sketches. There is also a small quantity of correspondence, 1986-1988.


The Collection is arranged into the following series:

  1. Series 1: Props, n.d., 1983, 1993
  2. Series 2: Activity files, n.d., 1969, 1971, 1973-1974, 1979, 1981, 1986-1988, 1991, 1994-1997, 2010, 2012-2014
  3. Appendix A: Arthur Tress Personal Library
  4. Appendix B: Props Inventory by Title of Work
  5. Appendix C: Tress Political Cartoon Collection

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Arthur Tress, 1994.

Processing Information

Container list prepared by Madison Reynolds and Leslie Squyres, 2014. The finding aid was updated by Tai Huesgen in 2021.

Arthur Tress collection bulk 1969-2014
Finding aid created by CCP Archives Staff
© 2021
Description rules
Finding Aid Based On Dacs (Describing Archives: A Content Standard)
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid encoded in English

Repository Details

Part of the Center for Creative Photography Archives Repository

1030 N. Olive RD
Tucson Arizona 85721 United States