Jasper Johns's Black Numeral series, created in 1968, features lithographs from Figure 0 through to Figure 9, representing a continuation of the artist's exploration into the visual and conceptual significance of numbers. Each print in the series portrays a single numeral rendered in black, set against a stark white background, exemplifying Johns's minimalist approach and his fascination with familiar, everyday symbols.

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Meaning & Analysis

Jasper Johns’ Black Numeral series delves into the abstraction and representation of numerals, a theme recurrent in his work that challenges perceptions of common symbols. The choice of a monochrome palette focuses attention on the form and texture of the numbers, stripping away any associative meanings and emphasising their aesthetic and structural qualities. Johns’s methodical approach to the numerals, treating them as both objects of visual study and as symbols laden with broader cultural significance, invites viewers to reconsider their preconceptions about what constitutes a subject worthy of artistic examination.

The lithographs, characterised by sharp lines and smooth gradients, showcases his mastery over the medium, allowing him to manipulate the ink to create prints that are both technically precise and deeply expressive. This series not only revisits themes from his earlier works but also reimagines them, presenting a mature, reflective exploration of the motifs that have defined his career.

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