Giorgio Maffei – Records By Artists: 1958-1990


Danilo Montanari, ISBN: 978-8897753087, English/Italian, 286 pages, 2014, Italy

During the Artelibro (Italian artists’ book fair) in 2013 there was an exhibition about the use of records as a medium by artists. Selected from the curator’s extensive personal collection, the 130 vinyl releases testified to how “artist’s records” have been considered an engaging and established format since the 1960s. This is the catalogue of the exhibition and it contains a generous quantity of pictures and details about each record on show. Many art celebrities are featured, with descriptions of the particular ways in which they used records in their work. Also on display are special limited editions by artists primarily considered musicians, but whose work has taken on artistic significance in a more general sense. The overview of the works reveals how artists’ records have encompassed many different types of format, from simple storage of audio (vocal, musical, pure audio) to those conceived as conceptual artworks in their own right. Since the early 20th century the avant-garde have exploited this mass-medium for its unique qualities. The catalogue only covers vinyl records till the 1980s, but it includes collective anthologies and magazines that often help to better contextualise the works, and to be a perfect carrier for limited or even exclusive productions. This is a very specialised resource that aside from its curio quality for record collectors and art fans also has a certain “dictionary” element. The only real drawback is the decision to stop at 1990.