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Sheldon Ross Gallery records, 1970-2007, bulk 1976-1995

Sheldon Ross Gallery records, 1970-2007, bulk 1976-1995

Sheldon Ross Gallery

Collection Information

Size: 1.8 linear feet

Summary: The records of the Sheldon Ross Gallery measure 1.8 linear feet and date from 1970 to 2004, with the bulk of materials dating from 1976-1995. The majority of the collection consists of artists' files. About half of the materials relate to Romare Bearden's work and his relationship with Sheldon Ross, the gallery owner. Also included are artist files regarding George Grosz and Michigan artists. The contents of artist's files vary but generally include biographical information, printed materials, and photographic images. The collection also contains correspondence, exhibition files, and photographs documenting the gallery's activities.

The gallery records document its exhibition history, exhibition reviews, sales of artwork, and Ross' significant projects. Also included are photographs and slides documenting much of the artwork exhibited. Materials relating to Romare Bearden include writings by and about Bearden and his artwork, and correspondence between Bearden and Ross during the years 1976-1989. There are many catalogues of Bearden's solo exhibitions at galleries, museums, and institutions, as well as exhibition reviews and images of Bearden's works.

The gallery exhibited other well-known artists including 20th century American artists, and German Expressionists, notably George Grosz, Bearden's instructor at the Art Students League in New York. Found in the records are exhibition catalogues, price lists, inventory cards, and artists' background materials. Also found is correspondence with museums, artists and clients, and slides and other photographic material of artwork offered by the gallery. Of note is correspondence between Sheldon Ross and the FBI concerning Ross' participation as an expert witness in a prosecution of individuals involved in Romare Bearden forgeries.

There are drawings of Sheldon Ross and The Sheldon Ross Galley by his son, Robert Ross. Photographs are of Sheldon Ross and Romare Bearden, Sheldon Ross with family and friends, and the predecessor gallery, Middle Earth Gallery.

Biographical/Historical Note

The Sheldon Ross Gallery (est.1975, closed 1988) was an art gallery specializing in American modernism in Birmingham, Mich. Sheldon Ross and his wife Phyllis Willbach (now Phyllis Ross) established and operated the gallery until they relocated to New York in 1988. Prior to founding the Sheldon Ross Gallery, the couple owned and operated the Middle Earth Gallery in Detroit, Mich.


The records were donated to the Archives of American Art in 2010 by Phyllis Ross, widow of Sheldon Ross.

A Finding Aid to the Sheldon Ross Gallery Records, 1970-2007, bulk 1976-1995, in the Archives of American Art
Biographical/Historical note
The Sheldon Ross Gallery (1975-1993), Birmingham, Michigan, and later Sheldon Ross Fine Arts and Sheldon Ross Fine Arts LLC (1993-2000) were operated by Sheldon Ross until his death in 2000. The Sheldon Ross Gallery was the only gallery in the Detroit area to consistently show German Expressionist art, emphasizing graphics. However, the gallery and Ross are best known for their early and continued support of Romare Bearden's work. The exhibition history shows a balance between an interest in local artists and an effort to offer diverse artwork from broad based sources.
Arrangement note
The collection is arranged in 7 Series. Materials are generally arranged by record type and chronologically thereafter.
Series 1: Gallery History, 1976-2000 (Box 1, OV 4; 0.2 linear feet)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1982-1999 (Box 1; 0.1 linear feet)
Series 3: Exhibition Files, 1976-1988 (Box 1; 0.1 linear feet)
Series 4: Artists' Files, 1968-2007 (Boxes 1-2; 0.9 linear feet)
Series 5: Printed Material, 1976-2000 (Box 2; 2 folders; OV 4; 0.2 linear feet)
Series 6: Drawings by Robert Ross, after 1975, (OV 5; 0.1 linear feet)
Series 7: Photographic Materials, circa 1970-2000 (Boxes 2-3, OV 5; 0.2 linear feet)
The records were donated to the Archives of American Art in 2010 by Phyllis Ross, widow of Sheldon Ross.
Processing Information note
The collection was processed by Harriet E. Shapiro in 2011.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Sheldon Ross Gallery records, 1970-2007, bulk 1976-1995. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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