An artist who has long exploited the emotional power of color and texture, Jo Ann Callis is widely known for her inventive photographs involving tactile objects and images of people in mysterious, often unsettling narratives. This work is the catalogue of an exhibition held at the J. Paul Getty Museum from March 31 to August 9, 2009. The volume, comprising fifty-five color and fifteen black-and-white works that range from 1974 to 2005, constitutes the first book-length treatment of Callis's work since 1989.
Many of these invented, dreamlike scenes of people and objects will be new to viewers, including a photographic installation of fifteen images of pastries lusciously printed in Cibachrome against textile backgrounds, and a more recent series of digitally montaged domestic interiors. Others, such as Salt, Pepper, Fire, in which a pair of salt and pepper shakers and cup of coffee stand next to a plate of food that has burst into flame while a bird flies over the table, are familiar favorites. All of these works attest to Callis's singular vision of the delicate boundary between the world within and the world without.
Judith Keller is senior curator in the Department of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum.
"Employing a visual poetry of odd angles and exaggerated formality, Callis reconceives the physical world as being as animate with possibility as her human subjects are alive with inward mystery. Hers are tableaux unmistakably vivants."