ARTHUR TRESS, Untitled, from the series Photographs from ‘The Tao of Physics’ Series, Gelatin silver print, 1983.
Arthur Tress is best known today for his photographs of staged still-life tab leaux. This photograph, however, offers a rare glimpse of his investigations into pure abstraction. Inspired by physical phenomena, Tress arranged found objects on textured backgrounds and then photographed the results in an attempt to “find rich symbolic meaning in pattern, not just merely the decorative, and its correlation to science and the search for the fabric of the universe.”
He drew source material for his series of abstractions from a range of art movements and cultures including Russian Constructivism, Tibetan prayer woodcuts, and stenciling techniques of the architect Louis Sullivan.
Tress’s photographs are included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 2001, the Corcoran Gallery of Art featured a retrospective of his work entitled Arthur Tress: Fantastic Voyage: Photographs 1956-2000 which took an intimate look at his long and varied career. The National Academy of Sciences presented an exhibition of Photographs from ‘The Tao of Physics’ Series in 2004.