“Judith Joy Ross has, as an artist, no formula. She starts over again each time—the riskiest way to do it. She has a style, of course, but it is austere. It cannot, if she panics, be used to take the place of content.” —American photographer Robert Adams
The work of Judith Joy Ross marks a watershed in the lineage of the photographic portrait. Her pictures—unpretentious, quietly penetrating, startling in their transparency—consistently achieve the capacity to glimpse the past, present, and perhaps even the future of the individuals who stand before her lens. Since the early 1980s, Ross has used a large-format, 8x10-inch view camera as a tool to capture the distilled essence of her brief encounters with a cross-section of the American people, with a focus on those in eastern Pennsylvania, where she was born and raised.
For Ross, whose stated purpose is “to notice what is going on with other people and to record it,” this has required a spontaneous and radical reformulation of the relationship between the photographer and the photographed. When successful, these encounters yield pictures that enable an acute emotional and psychological connection that resists sentimentality, upends prejudice, and traverses boundaries of time, place, and circumstance.
Featuring approximately 200 photographs, this exhibition charts Ross’s work through all her major projects as well as smaller series and individual images that have never been seen before. Together, these bodies of work explore what it means to be a citizen and a human being, forming a profound portrait of our age. The Philadelphia Museum of Art will be the only US venue for the exhibition, following its European tour in Madrid, Paris, and the Hague.