Illuminating the life and career of respected American photographer Judith Joy Ross

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A new publication encompasses over 200 of Ross’ pensive portraits, presenting a remarkably diverse yet visually cohesive oeuvre

Judith Joy Ross is “better described as a photographer of people than a maker of portraits”, observes the art historian Svetlana Alpers in the foreword to the American photographer’s latest monograph. The publication accompanies the largest retrospective of Ross’ work to date, currently showing at Le Bal, Paris, until 18 September 2022. 

Despite her often fleeting interactions with her subjects, Ross’ pensive black-and-white images capture them completely. From the subtle cock of a head or raised eyebrow to a slouched shoulder or flexed foot, her photographs are exquisite imprints of the individuals they frame.

As the photographer Paul Graham articulates: “People act like they want to photograph rocks and houses and trees, but what they really want is to have the gumption to photograph people the way Judith does.”

The publication encompasses over 200 of Ross’ images, which span several decades, from 1978 – a few years after she had studied photography under Aaron Siskind at the Institute of Design in Chicago during the 1960s – to 2015.

There are her softly lit portraits of the youthful inhabitants of Eurana Park, Pennsylvania, a place she was drawn to following her father’s death. And her ambitious images framing students in the schools that she and her brothers attended and her mother before them. Featuring over 15 series, the book is a testament to Ross’ remarkably diverse yet visually cohesive oeuvre.

Judith Joy Ross: Photographs: 1978–2015 is edited by Joshua Chuang and published by Aperture.