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The Art Institute of Chicago

Jasper Johns "0 through 9"

Jasper Johns "0 through 9"

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From: The Art Institute of Chicago
Limited Edition: 10
Exhibition: Jasper Johns: Gray
Material: Printed vinyl
Dimensions: 30" x 99" (76cm x 251cm)

Hanging Hardware Included


Continuing in his explorations of the color gray, Johns also combined another device he often used - superimposing the numbers zero through nine upon one another to create abstract images from very mundane, real world objects. Johns allowed the process of painting the numbers in sequence to determine the ultimate structure of the work.10 banners are now available featuring his 1961 drawing "0 through 9". The work conveys something of both the complexity and the simplicity of the charcoal medium as well as something magical about the numbers themselves.


Working in shades of gray was an important thematic and visual thread in the work of Jasper Johns starting in the mid-1950s and extending throughout his career. The color gray not only evokes a specific mood, but also required an intellectual rigor on Johns's part as he purged most of the other colors from his works. The exhibition Jasper Johns: Gray was one of the first to explore this fascinating period of Johns's work. Bringing together some 120 works in various media, the exhibition showed that even with a dearth of color, artistry and beauty can be achieved.

Johns explored a number of motifs throughout his career, and one of these was abstract forms and images created by objects that are otherwise mundane. It was this exploration that led him to his numbers studies like the drawing 0 through 9 shown on these banners. The image itself is created by Johns’s superimposing of the numbers one through 9 one upon the other so that the individual form of each numeral is overtaken by the larger whole of the image that is created. This toyed with the very idea of representation and abstraction.

Below the image on the banner, white and gray text on a blue background reads "Jasper Johns/Gray/The Art Institute of Chicago" and includes the dates of the exhibition "November 3 - January 6". Both sides of this banner are identical. Another banner from the exhibition features Johns’s 1963 painting Periscope (Hart Crane).


These banners were displayed around downtown Chicago from November 3, 2007 through January 6, 2008 to promote the exhibition, Jasper Johns: Gray at the Art Institute of Chicago. The exhibition was also seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

About the Artist

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