Meet the Artist Slowly Collecting The Beatle’s White Albums

Wednesday November 06, 2019 Written by James

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Over three million copies were originally made of The Beatles seminal 1968 White Album. American artist Rutherford Chang has 1,760 of them – and he wants more.

It’s impossible to verify, but Chang probably has the biggest collection of Beatles’ White Albums in the world. Admittedly, after 51 years sitting in teenage bedrooms and getting bounced around record stores, most of Chang’s copies now resemble Off-White Albums, or possibly Eggshell Albums. But Chang says it’s this deterioration that interests him most. Everyone’s White Album is a blank canvas: a sun-bleached, dog-eared metaphor for life.

“I noticed how personalized every copy of the White Album has become over the course of the last half century,” Chang told Wired. “Each copy has become a unique object because of the physicality of vinyl records. It's a format that is impossible to keep pristine, unlike digital recordings.”

Anyone can view Chang’s collection – he occasionally puts on displays at Recess, an artist’s workplace in New York. Visitors can browse the albums, perhaps listen to a little ‘Blackbird’, maybe even sell their own White Albums for some cash. Those looking to do so can rest easy if their copies aren’t in mint condition: Chang welcomes ring-wear, discolouration, even mould.