Jul 26, 2021
Jul 26, 2021

Gray Alphabets

15

Gray Alphabets

1968

Jasper Johns

(American, b. 1930)

Lithograph

Contemporary Collection of The Cleveland Museum of Art 1968.354

Catalogue raisonné: Field ULAE 57

Location

Description

Jasper Johns (American, born 1930) Gray Alphabets, 1968 Lithograph, edition 38/59 Contemporary Collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art 1968.354 Like Jasper Johns’s images of the American flag, his Gray Alphabetsexplores what it means when something everyday and common is transformed through both the context in which it is presented and the manner in which it is represented. Letters are flat signs that are so ordinary that one rarely considers their visual form. The repeating sequence of letters in this work recalls the most simplistic recitations of the alphabet in childhood, yet these building blocks of language also represent the highest achievements of human culture. By presenting letters as art, Gray Alphabetsencourages a shift in perception about the commonplaceness of their forms. The grid format of this lithograph is one Johns first used in a 1956 painting of the same title (Menil Collection, Houston), which was inspired by a chart he saw in a book. Each row begins with a different letter of the alphabet but repeats all of the letters in order, so that each letter has a unique position in the overall grid. By following this system, Johns developed a composition with an “overall” quality so that no one area dominates over another. A group of works in the exhibition Jasper Johns: Numbers,currently on view in the North Gallery, also reflects this compositional type.

See also
Collection: 
PR - Lithograph
Department: 
Prints
Type of artwork: 
Print
Medium: 
Lithograph

Contact us

The information about this object, including provenance information, is based on historic information and may not be currently accurate or complete. Research on objects is an ongoing process, but the information about this object may not reflect the most current information available to CMA. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@clevelandart.org.

To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.

Request a digital file from Image Services that is not available through CC0, a detail image, or any image with a color bar. If you have questions about requesting an image, please email imageservices@clevelandart.org.