About this artwork
While Jasper Johns has worked with stencils of alphabet letters since the 1950s, this is his only painting that shows a single sequence from A to Z. The artist made Alphabet the same year in which he introduced riots of primary color—augmented by touches of green, pink, orange, pale blue, gray, brown, black, and white—into his work. We might try to read this painting in order, letter by letter, from top left to bottom right. But the jumble of strokes, daubs, smudges, and collaged fragments of painted paper scatters our eyes across the animated surface, challenging any sense of sequential progress. In this way, two different stylistic approaches—orderly grids of stenciled forms versus brushy gestures—are set against one another.
- Jasper Johns
- United States
- Made 1959
- paper on hardboard
- 30.5 × 26.7 cm (12 × 10 1/2 in.)
- Gift of Edlis Neeson Collection