- Majority of material found in 1950-2009, undated
Scope and Content Note
The collection consists of 273 works, including 206 prints, 52 drawings and 15 printing plates and blocks. As an artist, John Ross explored subjects ranging from daily life in a city to landscapes, abstract images and fantastical cityscapes through the media of ink drawings, collagraphs, woodcuts, lithographs and etchings. This collection provides a cross section of the artist’s body of work, focusing primarily on collagraphs, woodcuts and drawings. Among the largest categories of work are 49 abstract images which generally focus on industrial themes, many of which are examinations of very similar elements, such as his Quadros series of collagraphs. Scenes from Venice, both architecture and Carnival characters, are represented with 50 collagraphs. 45 images from his international travels are also in the collection, including town views and landscapes from Italy, Spain and Eastern Europe. Another area of concentration for the artist was town and city views, both realistic and highly fantastical. Woodcuts, representing an earlier period in his art, are also part of this collection, as are a series of Southwestern landscapes and examples of posters and a portrait. The collection also includes 51 primarily ink drawings that touch on themes from armored knights to foreign and New England landscapes and highly abstract images, many of which are repeated in his prints. Many of the prints in the collection are also to be found in books illustrated by John Ross alone or in conjunction with Clare Romano. The library has a number of these books in its collections.
13 cubic feet (6 large flat boxes (23 x 31.5 x 3”), 2 large flat boxes (18 x 24 x 3”), 2 large flat boxes (19.5 x 25 x 2.5”), 1 large flat box (23 x 29 x 1.5”), 1 map case drawer and 6 framed prints)
Language of Materials
The collection consists of 273 works, including 206 prints, 52 drawings and 15 printing plates and blocks. As an artist, John Ross explored subjects ranging from daily life in a city to landscapes, abstract images and fantastical cityscapes through the media of ink drawings, collagraphs, woodcuts, lithographs and etchings. This collection provides a cross section of the artist’s body of work, focusing primarily on collagraphs, woodcuts and drawings.
John Ross (1921-2017) was a printmaker, illustrator, painter, author and a teacher of art. Born in New York City, he received a BFA from Cooper Union in New York in 1939. He also studied at the Parson School of Design, the New School of Social Research and Columbia University, as well as in Italy and France. He taught at Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY for over 20 years and at the New School University in New York for over 50 years. His work received numerous honors and awards, waas exhibited in many one-man shows and is represented in the collections of major art institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum and the Hirshhorn Collection. He was active in art organizations and served as president of the Society of American Graphic Arts. In addition to a large body of printed and painted works, he also illustrated many books. He was married to the artist Clare Romano, with whom he collaborated in writing The Complete Printmaker, The Complete Collagraph and a number of limited edition artists’ books.
The works are arranged into nine series: Abstractions, Drawings, Early Works, Foreign Vistas, Imaginary Cities and Town Scenes, Southwestern, Venice, Uncategorized and Collage Plates and Woodblocks. Within each series, works are arranged by title; untitled works are arranged by year when possible. There is considerable overlap in style and subject between categories and care was taken to place material in the category what would best aid its discovery. For example, we have chosen to place works with somewhat stylized town scenes having identified locations in the Foreign Vistas series, along with prints that appear to be in the same setting, but which have no identified location. Other works, also with stylized town scenes or landscapes, but without a clear tie to a specific location are in Abstractions or Imaginary Cities and Town Scenes. Abstract images with no visual tie to an identified location are in Abstractions. Three of the series (Early Works, Southwestern) are represented by a small number of works. These are housed together in Box 6. Oversized works are listed within each series, but are housed separately in a Map Case Drawer.
Six of the prints have been framed and are on display, eight in Alexander Library and one in the Library Annex.
An overview of series and the boxes in which they are to be found follows:
Abstractions (Box 1)
Drawings (Box 2)
Early Works (Box 6)
Foreign Vistas (Box 3)
Imaginary Cities and Town Scenes (Box 4)
Southwestern (Box 6)
Venice (Box 5)
Uncategorized (Box 6)
Collage Plates and Woodblocks (Box 7-12)
The collection was donated by John Ross and Timothy Ross, the artist and his son.
Each drawing, print or painting has been given an individual Rutgers identification number. With the general exception of framed, displayed artwork, numbers were written in pencil on the upper right hand corner of the verso, or the nearest clear surface that would not interfere with the artwork, carving or any notations. The identifiers indicate location, folder and item. Works that are on display, collage plates and woodblocks carry only an item number. Examples and explanations of these identifying numbers follows:
Ross 1/2 - 4
This work is in Box 1, Folder 2, with the unique item number 4.
Ross D1 - 7e
This work is an oversized work located in a Drawer, Folder 1, with the unique item number 7e.
This is a collage plate. Plate numbers are listed on the label of each box.
Pieces that were matted on acidic paper were removed from the mat to stop further deterioration of the paper. If possible without damaging the paper, the corrosive tape used to attach the piece to the mat was also removed. Where necessary, repairs were made to torn sheets. Any repairs have been noted in the item descriptions. Many of the works have tape, tape damage, or pinholes from earlier mountings. Unframed prints have been placed in acid free or acid free mildew-resistant microchamber folders. Prints are further separated by acid free tissue.
Artworks used a variety of papers, with most collagraphs printed on heavy cream-colored paper and many woodcuts on Japanese paper. The paper used is noted in each item description.
Measurements are of the frame size, unless otherwise noted, and are height x width in centimeters.
- Guide to the John Ross Collection
- Edited Full Draft
- Elizabeth M. Phillips and Michael Joseph
- February 2016
- Language of description note
- Finding aid is written in English.
- March 2009: Items listed as n.d. changed to undated, per DACS
- September 2009: revised coding to add encoding analogs to some elements per the EAD report card
Part of the New Brunswick Special Collections Repository