Typewriter art
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Typewriter Art

When a typewriter is used as an instrument to create art, the first question that comes to mind is: Why don't you use a pencil? A typewriter is an extremely clumsy drawing instrument, but both established artists, poets and amateurs managed to create some striking pieces on them.
(Click the thumbnails to see the series.)

Typewriter art
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 typewriter.
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 (
***Photo's: Peter Weil