Book Report: The Art of Typewriting by Marvin & Ruth Sackner

Art of Typewriting_book coverArt is an important part of our lives; when we travel we almost always explore the local art scene. For Christmas last year, a relative gave me receive “The Art of Typewriting” by Marvin & Ruth Sackner. (Thanks for the suggestion, Richard!)

The Sackners are among the foremost collectors of typewriter art, and this book is comprised of works owned by the Sackner Archive of Visual & Concrete Poetry. What are those?

Concrete, pattern, or shape poetry is an arrangement of linguistic elements in which the typographical effect is more important in conveying meaning than verbal significance. It is sometimes referred to as visual poetry, a term that has now developed a distinct meaning of its own. As such, concrete poetry relates more to the visual than to the verbal arts and there is a considerable overlap in the kind of product to which it refers.”  (Wikipedia)

“Literary theorists have identified visual poetry as a development of concrete poetry but with the characteristics of intermedia in which non-representational language and visual elements predominate.” (Wikipedia)

OK, but is it art?


I get the same feeling opening this book at random as I do wondering the halls of museums everywhere I go. To me, art uplifts and inspires us. No two people experience art the exact same way, but when we really resonate with a work of art it can remind us of our higher selves and our true aspirations.

Why do I recommend this book? It expanded my horizons as to what’s possible when it comes to making art with a typewriter. I also had no idea how much of it was part of well-known to me genres such as Futurism, Russian Avant Garde, Dada, Surrealism, Bauhaus, De Stijl, and others. One more perk of this book: each and every book cover contains a unique work of typewriter art, so your cover will look different from mine.

I plan to write more about this book and typewriter art in general. Along with the general resurgence in typewriters there’s a similar wave of artists exploring use of the typewriter in their work. It’s an exciting time for us all, and I hope to see the art continue to flourish.


Additional resources:

Thames & Hudson, publishers:

The Sackner Archive of Visual & Concrete Poetry:

Concrete! documentary film about Conrete Poetry & the Sackner Archive:


2 thoughts on “Book Report: The Art of Typewriting by Marvin & Ruth Sackner

  1. I got to meet Marvin Sackner at the Miami Book Fair. (His wife died shortly beforehand, sadly.) It was clear that this was a very personal passion for the two of them.

    By the way, as I understand it, some images are repeated on the covers, but no two copies have the very same combination of artworks on front and back cover.

    • Richard, very interesting to learn more about the images, thanks for clarifying. As much as I like typewriters and modern art, I had no idea that typewriter art would grab me the way it has. I have you to thank for the gift idea, btw. :)

      So sorry to hear of Ruth’s passing. The Sackner Archive seems an important cornerstone to a flourishing future for typewriter art, and I am very grateful for the good work they’ve done to bring it to a wider public.

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