John Ross and Clare Romano Ross A love-life of printmaking
John Ross and Clare Romano Ross are both artists who specialise in Printmaking. They met whilst studying at Cooper Union in the early 1940’s, and were married in 1943 just before John went to Italy during WWII. It is unusual for two married artists to have such highly acclaimed individual careers.
I first discovered them through a beautiful book called ‘Manhattan Island’ by May Garelick (1957), the first of many books that they went onto work on together. What beautiful woodcut illustrations, I’d love a copy of this book.
There’s a wonderful use of minimal colour in these pieces and the illustrations are very cleverly arranged to utilise the three main printed colours and the white ground to their full potential. They all have a vitality and spirit about them, summing up Manhattan life in all it’s busy suburban ways.
One of the most important publications the couple wrote was ‘ The Complete Printmaker ‘ published by Macmillan in 1972 and updated and reprinted for the next 40 years. As artists, the two work separately, although not in wildly divergent modes. Both artists were professors at several colleges and universities over their careers.
John Ross taught at New School for Social Research 1957-2008, Manhattanville College in 1966-1986, Cooper Union 1967-1969, Columbia University, printmaking, 1983-1984. He began making collagraphs while teaching printmaking for the U.S.I.A. in Romania in 1964. He was teaching etchings and drypoints when a shortage of zink plates occurred. In a desperate bid for materials he started working with cardboard and glue to replace the zink plates. The process is particularly identified with both artists work. Here is some of John’s work, he likes mixing in a little typography.
His work is quite masculine and structural. Lovely colours and attention to detail.
These typo people are great fun.
This is a little like the work of Edward or Richard Bawden or Robert Tavener‘s work too.
Clare Romano taught at the Art Center of Northern NJ from 1960-1965, New School University, NYC from 1960-1973, Pratt Graphics Center 1963-1987, Pratt Institute 1964-1991 and Pratt Institute Summer Program in Venice, Italy 1988-2007. This is some of her work, there’s a lovely free and easy style here.
A major turning point in Clare’s work was occasioned by her first trip to the Grand Canyon in 1975. She responded not only to the colours of the landscape and to intensity of the light, but also to the dramatic monolithic formation of the canyons. Her simplification and abstraction of these overwhelming shapes gave a new dimension of sparseness and strength to her work.. Her reaction to the landscape also brought about contextual changes in her collagraphs. For the first time, she started making bleed prints – all previous prints had had margins – because she felt that any borders would belie and diminish the majesty, the endless vista, of the subject she was portraying.
John also has a passion for the same desert landscape, and his interpretation looks like this.
I’ve loved looking at the work of these two talented artists, who, I believe are still having exhibitions to this day.