Asked how he started collecting, Marvin Sackner likes to quote his friend Carle Andre, the contemporary sculptor: “You can’t want to be a collector, you are a collector.” For Ruth Sackner, Marvin’s wife and co-curator, the collection came as a kind of dowry: “I collect because I married a collector.” Together, the two septuagenarians founded The Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry in Miami, Florida, a 65,000 piece museum that also serves as their primary residence—which they refer to as their “home sweet museum.”
“The space talks to you,” says Ruth of the process of arranging the home's many objects, “in fact, sometimes you physically walk around with a piece, and it finds its home.” The bright yellow Platner Lounge Chairs and accompanying Side Table are from the 1960s, when the Platner Collection first made its debut. The Platner Lounge Chairs are most often used in conjunction with the glass coffee table as perches for surveying pieces that have been removed from the archive. Of the stories behind such lived-in pieces, one of the Sackners' artist friends, Johanna Drucker, advises, “don’t dare ask about anything, because everything leads to another drawer, another shelf and a whole set of artifacts and [accompanying] stories.”
“The space talks to you. In fact, sometimes you physically walk around with a piece, and it finds its home.”
“A lot of the things that Marvin and Ruth have are almost invisible,” says friend and artist Tom Phillips, “in that they’re of no superficial artistic interest at all—letters, bits of documents, scraps of paper.” In spite of its humble appearance, the collection spans movements as diverse as Russian Constructivism, Italian Futurism, Dada, Surrealism, Lettrisme, Fluxus and Inism.
Although the Sackners take precautions to protect their collection—the blinds are always drawn to keep out the sunlight—nothing gets in the way of their daily lives. No one wears gloves while handling the pieces, which the Sackners see as both antithetical to their approach and detrimental to the art, since lint comes off on surfaces. Operating outside the white museum walls that usually frame interactions with art, Ruth and Marvin "guard the work between them," like a pair of bookends.
Design: Marvin & Ruth Sackner
Photography: Ryan Lowry