0-9 is one of Johns earliest and most ambitious print projects, created with ULAE over the course of three years between 1960-63. The style of the numerals derives from simple numerical stencils providing Johns with a subject to then be altered through his interpretation. Each numeral was produced from the same lithographic stone which was erased and re-worked for each number but retains vestiges of the previous image as the numerals progress. 0-9 is an extremely successful instance in which an otherwise mundane subject is transformed into something visually complex and engaging, a theme central to Johns artistic practice.
An excerpt from the text by Robert Rosenblum included with the portfolio summarizes the importance of the theme of progression and rhythm in the series:
"This intricate order, as tedious to explain in words as the variations of a twelve-tone row in serial music, is quickly perceived, if not quickly fathomed, in the lithographs themselves, which provide not only one of the most dazzling demonstrations of technical virtuosity in modern graphics, but one of the most exhilarating visual and intellectual adventures in recent art. Like so many of Johns's paintings, these lithographs set into tension an underlying schema of bold, flat and standardized formshere the simple stencil design of numbersagainst the subtlest handicraft of the artist. If the given data of the numbers are inflexible in pattern and sequence, the aesthetic means that define them are of bountiful freedom."