Visual Arts

World’s largest collection of word art, on display at the Pèrez Art Museum Miami

Marvin and Ruth Sackner were first attracted to visual poetry because of its accessibility. “When you have words in the artwork you can communicate easily,” says Marvin, a retired doctor who was chief of medicine at Mt. Sinai hospital in Miami Beach. “It’s an extrospective kind of art rather than introspective.”

The collection they’ve been building since the 1970s, the Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry, is filled with works readily appreciated by those without art history degrees — and those with them. From images created by the clever use of a typewriter to a rare 1897 publication of Un Coup de des (A Throw of the Dice) by Stéphane Mallarmé, the 300 works now on display at the Pèrez Art Museum Miami showcase letters and words valued both for meaning and manner.

With more than 75,000 items, the Sackner Archive is the world’s largest collection of word art. Though selections from it have often been shown in museums, the PAMM exhibit is the first time it has been shown in a dedicated space. See it before Aug. 3, when the works will return to the drawers and files that fill the two Miami apartments the Sackners call archive and home.

Jane Wooldridge

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