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John Ross and Clare Romano Ross A love-life of printmaking

December 18, 2013

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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.

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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.

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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.

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His work is quite masculine and structural. Lovely colours and attention to detail.

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These typo people are great fun.

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This is a little like the work of Edward or Richard Bawden or Robert Tavener‘s work too.

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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.

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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.

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John also has a passion for the same desert landscape, and his interpretation looks like this.

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I’ve loved looking at the work of these two talented artists, who, I believe are still having exhibitions to this day.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. December 18, 2013 1:54 pm


  2. Paul Cleden permalink
    December 23, 2013 11:42 am

    Wonderful colour and textures.

  3. Tim Ross permalink
    October 6, 2015 12:20 am

    “Very nice article” says their son, Tim Ross.
    And yes they are still exhibiting-Manhattanville College Nov 11 to Dec 11, 2015.
    reception Nov 18, 5-8 pm
    John is 94.
    Clare 93.

    • October 6, 2015 8:38 am

      Many thanks for the update Tim and regards to your extremely talented parents from me too : )

  4. March 8, 2016 12:36 am

    my mom has an artist’s proof of a Ross work…knew them in the 60s…beautiful…

    • March 8, 2016 12:37 pm

      How very exciting, is it on her wall ? How great to have known them then too : )

    • Thomas Foley permalink
      August 2, 2022 3:08 am

      I studied under Clare while attending Pratt Institute in the early 80s. One of the greatest teachers at Pratt n very generous w sharing her knowledge.

  5. Jill Jonnes permalink
    October 30, 2021 4:45 pm

    What a labor of love. Clare and John were my in-laws and sadly no longer with us, so very lovely to see so much of their art beautifully displayed. Their work is available through the Old Print Shop in Manhattan, a wonderful gallery well worth a visit for all the many artist’s work they carry.

    • October 31, 2021 4:13 pm

      Cheers Jill. It was lovely to put this post together, not laboursome for me at all lol. Hope this finds you well and lovely that you were lucky to know these talented artists. All the very best.

    • Thomas Foley permalink
      August 2, 2022 3:10 am

      O wow I didn’t know they were gone. So sorry


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