Jasper Johns

Jasper Johns, “0 through 9”, 1960; Oil on Canvas, 182.8 x 137.1 cm; Collection of Helen and Charles Schwab, Gift to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

“0 through 9” is an oil painting on canvas by the American painter, sculptor and printmaker Jasper Johns. This large work, rendered in distinct areas of red, blue and golden yellow, presents the viewer with the numerical figures 0–9, each scaled to fill the whole canvas and superimposed over one another, such that while each number is visible, it is difficult to discern them individually.

The application of the paint is characterised by heavy brush marks and oil films, along with widespread impasto. Areas of color are highly worked and blended within and across individual spaces created by the overlapping numbers. This blending is evident throughout the entire composition, as is the multi-directional nature of the brushstrokes. Linear accents have been added in charcoal.

“0 through 9” was made by Johns in 1961 when he was living in New York. It is one of a series of twelve works by the artist, some produced in editions, that show the numbers 0 to 9 superimposed over one another. The series began with a drawing of 1960, now in the NY MOMA. In total, there are five paintings in the series the same size as the Tate work, including one made using a grey monochrome technique known as grisaille. Johns also made three smaller paintings on paper, a metallic relief, a pastel and a lithograph.