The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl


Even though most of us get our music from digital files nowadays, there was a time when vinyl records were the primary medium for listening to recorded music. Since music is an art form that moves people’s minds and spirits, visual artists have long used records and the related paraphernalia as both subject matter and materials in their work. The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl, a fascinating exhibition at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, explores the culture of vinyl records within the history of contemporary art, from the 1960s to the present.

Offering sound work, sculpture, installation, drawing, painting, photography, video, and performance by 41 artists, The Record looks at the importance of vinyl from a variety of creative and cultural viewpoints. Christian Marclay collages vinyl records together to make humorous pieces that would be jarring if played; Kevin Ei-ichi deForest alters album covers with paint and pencil to comment on cultural identity; Laurie Anderson turns a violin into a record player, with the needle in the bow; and Dario Robleto melts down Billie Holiday LPs to make buttons for thrift-store shirts. Mixing artists from different countries and different generations (including Ed Ruscha, William Cordova, and Malik Sidibe,) The Record reveals a common thread that’s shared around music and the media that delivers it—regardless of whether it’s analog or digital.

The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl is on view at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University through February 6 and then travels to the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston from April 15 to September 5.

Click through below for a gallery of images.

Christian Marclay, Recycled Records, 1983. Collaged vinyl records, 10 inches diameter. © Christian Marclay. Courtesy of the artist and the Paula Cooper Gallery, New York.

Laurie Anderson, Laurie Anderson Playing Viophonograph, Photo by Bob Bielecki, 1977. Black and white photograph, 11 x 14 inches. © Laurie Anderson. Image courtesy of the artist and Sean Kelly Gallery, New York.

Jeroen Diepenmaat, Pour des dents d’un blanc éclatant et saines, 2005. Record players, vinyl records, taxidermied birds, and sound. Dimensions variable. © Jeroen Diepenmaat. Image courtesy of the artist, Jeroen Diepenmaat.

Robin Rhode, Wheel of Steel, 2006. Nine digital pigment prints mounted on four-ply museum board, 49.5 x 68 inches; each panel print size, 15.5 x 22 inches. Purchase, Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University Fund for Acquisitions. © Robin Rhode. Image courtesy the artist and Perry Rubenstein Gallery, New York.

Taiyo Kimura, Haunted By You, 2009. DVD, 5-minute loop. © Taiyo Kimura. Image courtesy of the artist, Taiyo Kimura.

Sean Duffy, Burn Out Sun, 2003. 20 LP records, glue, metal tripod, 42 x 33 x 33 inches. Collection of Debra and Dennis Scholl, Miami Beach. Courtesy of the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects. Photo by Gene Ogami.

Moyra Davey, Shure, 2003. C-print, 20 x 24 inches, Courtesy of the artist and Murray Guy, New York

David Byrne, More Songs About Buildings and Food, 1978. Polaroid SX-70 prints (photomontage for album cover), 90 x 90 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Fatimah Tuggar, Turntable (work on which Fai-fain Gramophone, 2010, is based) (detail), 1996. Record player, raffia discs with labels, music by Barmani Choge, entertainment center; dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist.

Kevin Ei-ichi deForest, The Record Shop series (Poutine & Sushi), 2007. Oil on record cover, 12 x 12 inches. Courtesy of the artist. Courtesy of the artist. Photo by Brian Hudesmyth Photography.

Gregor Hildebrandt, Kassettenschallplatte (Cassette Record), 2008. LP record made of magnetic tape, 12 inches diameter. Collection of Sandy Heller, New York. Courtesy of the artist and Wentrup, Berlin. Photo by Roman März.

Dario Robleto, Sometimes Billie Is All That Holds Me Together, 1998-1999. Hand-ground and melted vinyl records, various clothing, acrylic, spray paint. Several new buttons were crafted from melted Billie Holiday records to replace missing buttons on found, abandoned or thrift store clothing. After the discarded clothing was made whole again, it was re-donated to the thrift stores or placed back where it was originally found. Dimensions variable. Private collection, New York. Courtesy of Edward Boyer Associates, Inc., Fine Art Advisory. Image courtesy of the artist and Inman Gallery, Houston. Photo by Dr. J Caldwell.