O is for Origin Story

(left to right) Lithography stone; 0 from Jasper Johns, 0–9, 1963. 10 lithographs, 20 5/8 x 15 1/2 in.; Jasper Johns, Target, 1960. Lithograph, 22 1/2 x 17 1/2 in; Both Johns prints published by Universal Limited Art Editions. John and Maxine Belger Foundation © Jasper Johns and ULAE / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.

(left to right) Lithography stone; 0 from Jasper Johns, 0–9, 1963. 10 lithographs, 20 5/8 x 15 1/2 in.; Jasper Johns, Target, 1960. Lithograph, 22 1/2 x 17 1/2 in; Both Johns prints published by Universal Limited Art Editions. John and Maxine Belger Foundation © Jasper Johns and ULAE / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.

I like that Jasper Johns looked at a blank lithography stone and decided the first image he would make with it was a zero. (I learned this fact on a recent staff tour of our current exhibition with Assistant Curator Renée Maurer.) It’s not difficult to imagine how a target came next–its basis is also a circle, also a symbol, but instead of quantifying nothingness, a target represents a very specific goal. Giotto famously demonstrated his artistic prowess  by drawing a perfect circle without the aid of a compass. By beginning his printmaking career with the continuous, curved shape of infinity–first zeroed out, then honed in–Johns inscribed seemingly limitless potential.

Cecilia Wichmann, Publicity and Marketing Manager

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>