Untitled (Doughnut), #12

Object Details


Untitled (Doughnut), #12


Jo Ann Callis (American, born 1940)






Silver-dye bleach print


27.9 × 35.6 cm (11 × 14 in.)


© Jo Ann Callis

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Sometimes in today's culture, the words used for eating indulgences such as fattening, unhealthy desserts are similar to the words used for forbidden sex. I wanted to make the desserts look as sexy and seductive as they do in reality. I wanted the viewer to respond to their texture and to their imagined taste; to the feeling one might get from smelling and tasting them. "Doughnut" pictures a round, glazed doughnut with a little drip in the front, falling onto gently colored, pink-and-grey fabric. How can one photograph sexy desserts and not include a doughnut?

--Jo Ann Callis

This image is one of a series of photographs of dessert pastries--called "Forbidden Pleasures"--occasionally displayed together to invite comparison of shapes, colors, and other visual elements. Callis has said that these soft, sweet, colorful pastries, each lit and staged on a fabric of complimentary texture and design, is about the "idea that desserts and eating desserts carries some of the same psychological baggage as guilt." In other words, eating rich desserts in this health-conscious time can be considered a crime of sorts. In these images, there is also a tongue-in-cheek reference to human sexuality. The seductive ingredients of the pastries and their fabric environments simulate the look of flesh. Although the motivation for this project may have been an impulsive urge to have fun with both the glossy Cibachrome medium and the subject of sweets, Callis was no doubt drawing on the tradition of abundance found in earlier still life painting and the extravagant color of more recent painters representing popular culture.

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