Target marks Johns' first foray into print making and is the first of many of this prints to be published in collaboration with ULAE. The target is an image closely associated with Johns and he has explored the image fourteen different times through lithography, etching and screenprinting.
Tatyana Grosman, founder of Universal Limited Art Editions (ULAE) persuaded Johns and Rauschenberg to work in her modest printing studio in Islip, Long Island. Grosman and her husband came to America from Europe and brought with them the tradition of the peintre-gravures, or painter-printmakers, which had been pioneered by Vollard as part of the printmaking revival in late nineteenth century France.
In post war America, Grosman found that there was no printmaking workshop which provided a venue for painters to explore lithography, the most painterly of printmaking techniques. Grosman created a supportive enviroment for young artists including Johns and Rauschenberg together with Larry Rivers, Fritz Glarner, Robert Motherwell and James Rosenquist who made their first prints with Grosman.
Target is closely based on the crayon drawing, Broken Target of 1958. In the late 1950's Johns had concentrated on drawing. Lithography, which is closely allied, was a natural progression involving as it does, drawing with grease crayon or tusche directly on the stone or plate. Target is printed from one stone (although there was a second 'tone' stone considered and rejected) and was published in a small edition of thirty.