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.Jo Ann Callis: Woman Twirling is the catalogue of an exhibition held at the J. Paul Getty Museum from March 31 to August 9, 2009. The book, comprising sixty-eight 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 a 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.
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Judith Keller is acting senior curator in the Department of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum.From Publishers Weekly:
Accompanying an exhibit at The Getty Center in L.A, this volume highlights three decades of work (1970s-'90s) from "one of the first important practitioners of the Fabricated Photographs Movement," Jo Ann Callis. Callis's simple but troubling images of domesticity investigate its potential for both comfort and anxiety; in her introduction, senior Getty Center curator Keller notes Callis's "Hitchcock-like bent to create a scene subtly loaded with the attractive as well as the horrible." In a piece titled Woman and Lilies, a woman's face appears in a bottom corner against a background of flowered wallpaper; her placement, lighting, looming shadow and her raised hand indicate, subtly an approaching threat or off-screen tragedy. Another image, Man and Plant, backgrounds its screaming (laughing?) human subject behind a potted house plant; the effect is similar, a ribbon of horror or madness mixed into the seemingly innocuous. A master of creating mood, Callis forces discomfort on an audience used to making narrative sense from a still photograph. Keller applauds Callis's ability to "make the beautiful scary," but this collection shows that the inverse-that Callis makes the scary beautiful-is equally accurate. 55 color and 15 b&w plates.
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