Elliot Ross, ‘Animal (127)’, 2009, Aperture Foundation

This limited-edition print by San Francisco–based artist Elliot Ross is part of his series Animal. Intrigued by a portrait of his late cat, Ross wondered whether or not the cat consciously looked into the camera while the photograph was being taken. Ross then began to ask himself questions such as, "What was the cat thinking?" and "In what ways is the consciousness of an animal different from that of a human being?" As the artist states, "the title indicates this is the 127th in a series of photographs of animals. The animals are depicted without defined context, in a space where the figure has little if any background. I think this allows each image to be seen as an experience, as if we are encountering an individual of another species unexpectedly, coming upon it perhaps even in that most emotionally vulnerable of places: a dream. For similar reasons, I haven't used species names to identify them. And I haven't stated the locations at which they were photographed because each 'photographic record' is only the beginning of a much longer process, one involving a hands-on, drawing-like use of imaging software to apply ink to paper."

Going on to photograph animals from around the world, Ross creates images laden with emotion. In later discarding their environmental surroundings, and using an almost painterly approach in post-production, we are left with these beautifully isolated and powerful portraits.

Signature: Signed and numbered by the artist

About Elliot Ross

Inspired by a photograph of his late cat, San Francisco-based photographer Elliot Ross began creating images of animals in 2007. Each of these dramatic black-and-white portraits showcase a single, unidentified animal, stripped away from its settings and digitally manipulated to appear as though sculpted by light. Against a dark black background, the animals’ poses become exaggerated, allowing the viewer to focus on the individual animal, as well as specific gestures and expressions, as if looking at a portrait of a human. As such, the artist sees the work as a way to investigate what is unknowable about both the animal world and the human.

American, Chicago, Illinois, based in San Francisco, California