Cake, Hat, Pillow

Object Details


Cake, Hat, Pillow


Jo Ann Callis (American, born 1940)




negative 1982; print 1983


Gelatin silver print


20.8 x 54.7 cm (8 3/16 x 21 9/16 in.)


© Jo Ann Callis

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I wanted to take familiar objects and combine them in a way [in which] one might see them in new relationships to each other. The relationships can be a bit incongruous, but they at least make sense on a visual level. The pictures can be metaphorical, of ordinary occurrences in life existing at the same time as the extraordinary.

--Jo Ann Callis

In this unconventional "still life," three separate black-and-white images are printed side-by-side on a single sheet of photographic paper. From left to right, three images present individual items: a white cake on a glass plate, a light-grey Fedora hat, and a round, white pillow. Jo Ann Callis says of Cake, Hat, Pillow: "I didn't want any one of the objects in the composition to be more important than any other, so I had to separate them and give each its own independent space. These particular subjects were selected because they look very similar in the way they are photographed--and in their shape--but their meanings are quite different from one another. Domestic objects fascinate me because we see them all the time and we have strong associations with them."

Referring to the combined black-and-white still life studies made in 1982-83 as The Grid series, Callis selected familiar household objects that, individually, gave her comfort. By combining these objects and adding strong, focused overhead lighting, she infused drama or an imagined conversation, between the objects. The resulting assemblages cause the viewer to give common objects new weight and, perhaps, new meaning.

Jo Ann Callis: Woman Twirling (March 31 to August 9, 2009)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), March 31 to August 9, 2009