Since he was just a young boy, Brooklyn-born photographer Arthur Tress has been fascinated with documenting people. When he first began photographing, he spent much of his time at Coney Island, capturing the essence of the decaying amusement parks and strange people who frequented the place.
Across the course of his career, the American photographer developed an extensive collection of work that explores people, places, and cultures. In the 1960s, he turned towards an interest in the surreal and began creating work inspired by children’s dreams.
Oftentimes, viewers will find the work taking a bizarre turn towards disturbing, with dark, hooded figures mysteriously hovering over young children and strange faces emerging from unexpected places. This purposeful approach, described as “magic realism,” is the photographer’s signature style in which he combines improvised elements of actual life with staged fantasy.
Tress explains, “The purpose of these dream photographs is to show how the child’s creative imagination is constantly transforming his existence into magical symbols for unexpressed states of feeling or being. In fact, we are all always interchanging or translating our daily perceptions of reality into the enchanted sphere of the dream world.”