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Neat Photos: Modern Los Angeles Through A Tilted Lens
Surrealist photographer Arthur Tress may be best known for his work capturing staged dreamscapes and gay erotic fantasies, but after he had a 50-year retrospective at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. in 2000, he decided he need a new project. And that one would include capturing the architecture of L.A.
“I’m just going to go back to simple scenes, without all the psychological fantasy, literary references," Tress tells LAist. "It’s like when I began photography when I was in high school."
Tress, a 73-year-old New Yorker who's been living in Cambria, California for 25 years, often visits L.A. to see his brother who lives here. From 2009 to 2013, Tress explored different parts of the city—from the L.A. River to Venice Beach and Arroyo Seco—and took photos of the architecture and people.
His Pointers project is a series of diamond-shaped photos that he snapped on his Hasselblad camera, which he tilted at a 45-degree angle. Tress says that it's the perfect format for architectural studies because it creates an imbalanced composition that pushes the energies out to the corners of the snapshots. He was inspired by abstract art from the likes of Piet Mondrian's "Lozenge" paintings to the Russian Constructivism artwork of Kazimir Malevich.
"There was a school of photography from the 1930s, called 'modernist photography' where they play a lot with light and shade and textures and kind of dynamic spatial compositions," Tress says. "So I was inspired by that. Very few people do this kind of photography anymore."
Arthur Tress' "Los Angeles au Point" book can be purchased here. He's also done a series of other Pointers projects on different cities, from Miami to San Francisco.
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