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The art of the LP

The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University is readying a show dedicated to the LP, "The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl."

Steve Guttenberg
Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Stereophile.
Steve Guttenberg
2 min read
Jeroen Diepenmaat "Pour des dents d'un blanc eclatant et saines" 2005 Jeroen Diepenmaat
Laurie Anderson, "Viophonograph," 1976 Bob Bielecki

Sure, to some a record might be just a piece of plastic, but to me an LP is a beautiful object. It feels great in my hands, and looks amazing spinning on a turntable. There are dozens of LP cover art books, but just looking at light dancing on a LP's spiral groove is something I never tire of.

I own thousands of LPs and sometimes use them in my art. Of course the LP's prime attraction is its sound, so even as CD sales continue to decline, the LP looks like it will be around for the long haul. Not bad for a format that dates back to the late 1940s. Will the LP outlast the Blu-ray and become the only surviving physical format? Who knows, but vinyl's sound appeal isn't limited to just audiophiles. All sorts of music lovers are buying LPs nowadays. Turntable sales are stronger than they've been in decades.

The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University will have a show dedicated to the LP, "The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl," running from September 2, 2010, to February 6, 2011.

Fatimah Tuggar, "Turntable" 1996 Fatimah Tuggar

According to the museum's Web site, "'The Record' is the first museum exhibition to explore the culture of vinyl records within the history of contemporary art....Through sound work, sculpture, installation, drawing, painting, photography, video and performance, 'The Record' combines contemporary art with outsider art, audio with visual, fine art with popular culture, and established artists with those who will be exhibiting in a U.S. museum for the first time."

The exhibition is organized by Trevor Schoonmaker, the Nasher Museum's curator of contemporary art.