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elliot ross

elliot ross was born in Chicago. He was awarded a Master of Fine Arts degree from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1971. His project entitled Animal was featured in fotoMagazin (Germany), as part of its Masterpieces of Photography series, as well as in Le Journal de la Photographie (France), and other international publications. His books include Yehudhith (Hawkhaven Press, San Francisco, 2004). His work has been exhibited internationally and can be found in the collections of the Bibliothèque nationale de France, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, among other institutions. Ross is represented by Schilt Publishing Gallery, Amsterdam; Alan Klotz Gallery, New York; and Davis Orton Gallery, Hudson, New York. He lives in San Francisco and New York with his wife, the writer Ellen Ullman.

www.schiltpublishing.com

other animals

As curator of contemporary art at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, California, diana l. daniels organizes exhibitions and researches, makes acquisitions, and promotes the museum’s permanent collection. She is the author of several exhibition catalogues as well as numerous essays. In 2011, Daniels was introduced to Elliot Ross’s animal portraits, and selections from his first series are recent, noteworthy additions to the Crocker’s photography holdings. In Ross’s stirring, seductive, and classic yet fully contemporary images, the essayist finds a new level of richness that redefines the accomplishment possible in digital photography.

elliot ross

other animals

other animals is the sequel to American artist Elliot Ross’ critically acclaimed book of photographic animal portraits titled Animal (Schilt Publishing 2010). Approaching many species more closely, he has continued examining his thoughts and feelings about being an animal in a world with other animals: the wonder and beauty, as well as the unease. In this book he studies other species’ similarities and differences, their textures, physiques, and apparent physiognomies while using drawing techniques he has developed within digital imaging. The result is a group of strikingly sculptural black-and-white portraits that are at once photographs and drawings.


We can recognize the other animals as fellow creatures who share our fate as conscious, living beings struggling to get along in a world we never made. Christine Korsgaard


We can recognize the other animals as fellow creatures who share our fate as conscious, living beings struggling to get along in a world we never made. Christine Korsgaard


elliot ross

other animals


elliot ross

other animals


More than luscious imagery

In 1503 Albrecht Dürer conceived in watercolor

taken great pleasure in doing so, making the

2010 publication Animal. Ross’s evocation of

by Diana L. Daniels

The Large Piece of Turf, a study of nature so

drawing for its own sake, “and having done so,

Dürer is especially striking in both series of

painstakingly realized that each blade of grass is

the young artist found it worth keeping.” 2

portraits. The first encounter with the image

magnificently present in the composition. While

Studying this creature for the enjoyment of

Animal (127), 2009, from Animal, is like seeing

animal and plant studies on paper abound

contemplating it is of magnitude because no

what an Old Master might choose to do with

among the treasures of Renaissance workshops,

artist before Dürer so poignantly pondered on

his talent today, if so transported. In this image

Dürer’s turf is exceptional. Aside from the

paper, or in painting, the animal being, and by

of a snowy colored rabbit, Ross freezes the

aching realism he achieves, the scene is fully

extension the gap between animals and humans,

moment, but also makes palpable the moving

realized and self-contained. His novel choice of

as in these works. Rather, sketches of animals

breath and quiver of the rabbit’s heart rate.

the low vantage point from the ground looking

were executed purposefully in preparation for

We see how respiration moves the fur; how

up at seedheads on blades of grass makes nature

the visual elements of a painting upon which

an ear twitches. The resulting image displays

and its life forces an enchanting tale, story

might be cast the traits of human protagonists,

a commanding hand and the delicacy of

enough in itself. His departure from tradition

or alternately as the apparatus of travel when

graphite and watercolor on paper, Renaissance

was revolutionary. Dürer had “somehow granted

the creature depicted was not germane to

or contemporary period, an effect at once

himself the permission to draw natural objects

the narrative. Thus, animals tended to be

traditional and of the present. Moreover, the

as portraits rather than as symbols,” a consent

metaphors for human selves. Yet in these few

final image disguises the artistic intuition

that swiftly inspired imitators and new genres.1

works, Dürer engendered a lasting appreciation

and elaboration required to make us feel so

of images of animals.

intimately engaged.

ever so briefly did in watercolors and drawings

Fifty-six of Ross’s most recent portraits of

With the aforementioned rabbit—as is true

of exquisitely rendered hares, squirrels, a beetle,

animals are included in the portfolio Other

of all those included in Other Animals—the

and once, after an unusual encounter, a walrus.

Animals: a peaceable kingdom consisting of

portrait was digitally photographed. While Ross

So sensitively did Dürer on one occasion treat

bats, hyenas, monkeys, frogs, birds, and fish,

typically photographs his sitters in the context

the subject of a young bull that he must have

among others, expanding upon the artist’s

of the surroundings in which he encounters

Elliot Ross creates portraits of animals as Dürer


More than luscious imagery

In 1503 Albrecht Dürer conceived in watercolor

taken great pleasure in doing so, making the

2010 publication Animal. Ross’s evocation of

by Diana L. Daniels

The Large Piece of Turf, a study of nature so

drawing for its own sake, “and having done so,

Dürer is especially striking in both series of

painstakingly realized that each blade of grass is

the young artist found it worth keeping.” 2

portraits. The first encounter with the image

magnificently present in the composition. While

Studying this creature for the enjoyment of

Animal (127), 2009, from Animal, is like seeing

animal and plant studies on paper abound

contemplating it is of magnitude because no

what an Old Master might choose to do with

among the treasures of Renaissance workshops,

artist before Dürer so poignantly pondered on

his talent today, if so transported. In this image

Dürer’s turf is exceptional. Aside from the

paper, or in painting, the animal being, and by

of a snowy colored rabbit, Ross freezes the

aching realism he achieves, the scene is fully

extension the gap between animals and humans,

moment, but also makes palpable the moving

realized and self-contained. His novel choice of

as in these works. Rather, sketches of animals

breath and quiver of the rabbit’s heart rate.

the low vantage point from the ground looking

were executed purposefully in preparation for

We see how respiration moves the fur; how

up at seedheads on blades of grass makes nature

the visual elements of a painting upon which

an ear twitches. The resulting image displays

and its life forces an enchanting tale, story

might be cast the traits of human protagonists,

a commanding hand and the delicacy of

enough in itself. His departure from tradition

or alternately as the apparatus of travel when

graphite and watercolor on paper, Renaissance

was revolutionary. Dürer had “somehow granted

the creature depicted was not germane to

or contemporary period, an effect at once

himself the permission to draw natural objects

the narrative. Thus, animals tended to be

traditional and of the present. Moreover, the

as portraits rather than as symbols,” a consent

metaphors for human selves. Yet in these few

final image disguises the artistic intuition

that swiftly inspired imitators and new genres.1

works, Dürer engendered a lasting appreciation

and elaboration required to make us feel so

of images of animals.

intimately engaged.

ever so briefly did in watercolors and drawings

Fifty-six of Ross’s most recent portraits of

With the aforementioned rabbit—as is true

of exquisitely rendered hares, squirrels, a beetle,

animals are included in the portfolio Other

of all those included in Other Animals—the

and once, after an unusual encounter, a walrus.

Animals: a peaceable kingdom consisting of

portrait was digitally photographed. While Ross

So sensitively did Dürer on one occasion treat

bats, hyenas, monkeys, frogs, birds, and fish,

typically photographs his sitters in the context

the subject of a young bull that he must have

among others, expanding upon the artist’s

of the surroundings in which he encounters

Elliot Ross creates portraits of animals as Dürer


them, he carefully culls and selects images for

all its varieties, expressions, and extents remain

this can be is evident in the head of a male

Some animals possess sociability. Some display

editing and modeling on the computer, the latter

largely unknown. We are left to grapple with, in

turkey. The fleshy wrinkles of his caruncle and

affection, empathy, grief, envy, hostility and

process requiring days of concentrated effort.

philosopher Cora Diamond’s words, “a sense of

snood are tangible and, when “drawn” in black

shame. Others have words for predators or use

With meticulous dodging and burning, moving

astonishment and incomprehension that there

and white, convey all the power of character

tools. Just because an animal’s reasoning is

slowly from quadrant to quadrant, highlighting

should be beings so like us, so unlike us; so

defined by wrinkles lining a human face. The

not human-like does not mean it is mindless.

and darkening details, Ross labors until the

astonishingly capable of being companions of

connection is realized because Ross has stilled

Ultimately, Ross’s portraits offer more than

“drawing” emerges, so nuanced that it offers

ours and so unfathomably distant.” The tension

the moment and deliberately calmed the natural

luscious imagery; they offer wonder.

a satisfying perception of the subject. Ross,

between our connection to and isolation from

vigilance of this singular adult male through

having like Dürer the “sense for the substance

knowing animals Ross found so compelling that

editorial choices. Thus afforded a prolonged

and texture of the living animal,”3 captures

reflection became inquiry into art, science—

look, we find before us a wise old senator

with his camera the sitter and then does the

evolutionary, behavorial, and neurological—and

weighing the world in his thoughts.

transformative: he makes the individual that is

philosophy.

each animal personal to us.

Ross honors the gap between ourselves and

The latter notion seemingly brings us full circle

other animals, all the while embracing the direct

to Renaissance practice: the attribution of the

Other Animals, like its predecessor, is an essay

knowing we do have of animal personality. In

human to the animal. In Other Animals, it is

inspired by the artist’s intense reflection on

his approach, Ross, not unlike Irving Penn in

arguably more meaningful to consider whether

the profundity and eternal mystery of the

his series of street types created in 1950 and

in a rabbit, gorilla, or hyena, we recognize

bonds of trust we establish with dear animal

1951, focuses on the single subject, elaborating

some measure in each gaze of how they weigh

1. Karen Reeds, “Albrecht Dürer and the Animal and Plant Studies of the

companions. With our animal companions we

uniqueness by creating a velvety and mysterious

the world, of the terms of their experience. As

Renaissance by Fritz Koreny; Pamela Marwood; Yehuda Shapiro,” Isis 81,

are aware that the reward of the relationship

black field from which the figure emerges—a

such, Ross offers a consideration, privileged by

no. 4 (Dec. 1990): 768.

is mutual. Our beliefs are affirmed in our

tone far richer than Penn’s palladium

beauty, of the romantic view of the mental life

2. Gaillard F. Ravenal, in “Young Bull,” in Charles W. Talbot, et al.,

exchange of acknowledgment, affection, and

backgrounds. Further establishing the visibility

of animals, but not exclusively or conclusively.

Dürer in America: His Graphic Work, exh. cat. National Gallery of Art

the sharing of emotional dependence. Yet even

of the animal self is Ross’s emphasis on the

He merely asks that we contemplate the value

(Washington, 1971), no. ii.

after a century of studying animal intelligence,

sitter’s direct gaze when possible. How stirring

of the animal’s experience, not just our own.

3. Ibid


them, he carefully culls and selects images for

all its varieties, expressions, and extents remain

this can be is evident in the head of a male

Some animals possess sociability. Some display

editing and modeling on the computer, the latter

largely unknown. We are left to grapple with, in

turkey. The fleshy wrinkles of his caruncle and

affection, empathy, grief, envy, hostility and

process requiring days of concentrated effort.

philosopher Cora Diamond’s words, “a sense of

snood are tangible and, when “drawn” in black

shame. Others have words for predators or use

With meticulous dodging and burning, moving

astonishment and incomprehension that there

and white, convey all the power of character

tools. Just because an animal’s reasoning is

slowly from quadrant to quadrant, highlighting

should be beings so like us, so unlike us; so

defined by wrinkles lining a human face. The

not human-like does not mean it is mindless.

and darkening details, Ross labors until the

astonishingly capable of being companions of

connection is realized because Ross has stilled

Ultimately, Ross’s portraits offer more than

“drawing” emerges, so nuanced that it offers

ours and so unfathomably distant.” The tension

the moment and deliberately calmed the natural

luscious imagery; they offer wonder.

a satisfying perception of the subject. Ross,

between our connection to and isolation from

vigilance of this singular adult male through

having like Dürer the “sense for the substance

knowing animals Ross found so compelling that

editorial choices. Thus afforded a prolonged

and texture of the living animal,”3 captures

reflection became inquiry into art, science—

look, we find before us a wise old senator

with his camera the sitter and then does the

evolutionary, behavorial, and neurological—and

weighing the world in his thoughts.

transformative: he makes the individual that is

philosophy.

each animal personal to us.

Ross honors the gap between ourselves and

The latter notion seemingly brings us full circle

other animals, all the while embracing the direct

to Renaissance practice: the attribution of the

Other Animals, like its predecessor, is an essay

knowing we do have of animal personality. In

human to the animal. In Other Animals, it is

inspired by the artist’s intense reflection on

his approach, Ross, not unlike Irving Penn in

arguably more meaningful to consider whether

the profundity and eternal mystery of the

his series of street types created in 1950 and

in a rabbit, gorilla, or hyena, we recognize

bonds of trust we establish with dear animal

1951, focuses on the single subject, elaborating

some measure in each gaze of how they weigh

1. Karen Reeds, “Albrecht Dürer and the Animal and Plant Studies of the

companions. With our animal companions we

uniqueness by creating a velvety and mysterious

the world, of the terms of their experience. As

Renaissance by Fritz Koreny; Pamela Marwood; Yehuda Shapiro,” Isis 81,

are aware that the reward of the relationship

black field from which the figure emerges—a

such, Ross offers a consideration, privileged by

no. 4 (Dec. 1990): 768.

is mutual. Our beliefs are affirmed in our

tone far richer than Penn’s palladium

beauty, of the romantic view of the mental life

2. Gaillard F. Ravenal, in “Young Bull,” in Charles W. Talbot, et al.,

exchange of acknowledgment, affection, and

backgrounds. Further establishing the visibility

of animals, but not exclusively or conclusively.

Dürer in America: His Graphic Work, exh. cat. National Gallery of Art

the sharing of emotional dependence. Yet even

of the animal self is Ross’s emphasis on the

He merely asks that we contemplate the value

(Washington, 1971), no. ii.

after a century of studying animal intelligence,

sitter’s direct gaze when possible. How stirring

of the animal’s experience, not just our own.

3. Ibid


Profile for Schilt Publishing

Other Animals by Elliot Ross  

Preview the first pages of 'Other Animals' by Elliot Ross, published by Schilt Publishing in September 2014. The book is available to buy fr...

Other Animals by Elliot Ross  

Preview the first pages of 'Other Animals' by Elliot Ross, published by Schilt Publishing in September 2014. The book is available to buy fr...