The oldest known example of typewriter art dates back to 1898, when
the picture of a butterfly was published, that was typed on a Bar-lock
But it makes sense to differentiate here between such cleverly done
typewriter drawings and works of a higher artistic level. And even
there, the typewriter, clumsy as it is, has been used as an instrument
to produce sometimes amazing pieces of art.
Back in the 1920s a Dutch typographer and printer, H.N. Werkman,
was the first to use a typewriter to produce designs that are closely
related to the 'De Stijl' movement led by people like Mondrian
and Van Doesburg.
Some members of the contemporary Bauhaus movement in Germany
also used typewriters for design exercises.
But typewriter art began to flourish from the late 1950s when the
concrete poetry movement began to let itself be heard and
seen. Concrete poetry could best be described as a form of art where
the message of a poem is created by the combination of words and
typography. And the typewriter was in those pre-computer days the
most simple machine around that would let you superimpose letters
(just by typing over previous text).
Series 5 shows some examples from Alan Riddell's 1975 book
on Typewriter Art (LME publishers London), and includes work by
Werkman, Cinicolo, Bremer, grand master Dom Sylvester
Houedard and even a Japanese example by Toshihiko Shimizu
*Courtesy: Robert collection
**Available through The Electric Gallery (www.egallery.com)
***Photo's: Peter Weil