Advanced Search

O Through 9

Not on view

O Through 9

Artist: Jasper Johns (American, born 1930)

Date: 1976
Medium: Color lithograph on Torinoko paper
Overall: 10 1/8 x 7 1/2in. (25.7 x 19.1cm)
Image: 3 1/16 x 2 1/2in. (7.8 x 6.4cm)
Signed: Recto: l.r.of image - Jasper Johns
Credit Line: Gift of Paul J. Schupf
Object number: 85.18
Label Text
Early in his career Jasper Johns appropriated for his subject matter images that were impersonal and inherently flat-targets, maps, and stenciled numbers. This factual approach to subject stands in contrast to the highly personal painting of transcendent themes produced by the Abstract Expressionist artists who immediately preceded Johns (artists such as Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko).

Maps and numbers are conceptual representations in visual form. In choosing them, Johns addressed several ideas about art making and looking, or the eye's relation to the mind. In this print of numbers, Johns emphasized the how of image making over the what-that is, visual perception over representation, illusion, or narrative.

Johns began with a basic sign of representation, a number that is understood as a quantity. He then changed the sign by superimposing the numbers one upon another. The sign of each number is now lost. Johns also undermined the linear sequencing of enumeration-one, two, three, etc.-so that the meaning of the individual signs (the numbers) shifts from something linear and quantitative to something perceptual. The once-fixed signs are re-contextualized so that our sequential understanding of numbers (and counting) is thwarted by the numbers all occupying the same space at the same time.