Jasper Johns: An Allegory of Painting, 1955–1965

This section introduces lithographic versions of four of the six motifs in 1st Etchings, 2nd StateAle Cans, Flag, 0 through 9, and Light Bulb. The first three are presented in their initial printed versions. Flag I and 0 through 9 are among Johns’ earliest prints, and they reveal his experimental vigor as he undertook a new process, using lithographic crayon to draw the linear 0 through 9

0 through 9, 1960
National Gallery of Art, Rosenwald Collection. Art Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
and a liquid ink called tusche to create rich washes in Flag I. Although this section presents early print versions of these objects, Johns had already been exploring these motifs in other media: Flag first appeared in a 1954–1955 painting; Light Bulb and 0 through 9 appeared in drawings of 1957 and 1959–1960, respectively (although numerals organized as a grid date even earlier); and Ale Cans was introduced as sculpture in 1960, in both plaster and painted bronze versions. Flashlight and Paint Brushes, first made as sculpture in 1958 and 1960, respectively, are not represented in this section. They entered Johns’ print oeuvre in the 1968 portfolio entitled 1st Etchings, which preceded 1st Etchings, 2nd State.

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