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.