The Story Of The Guy That Owns 2,600 Beatles White Albums
The Beatles' White Album - The Beatles / Youtube
The inherent simplicity of the stark white cover on the Beatles’ eponymous 1968 album has become a thing of debate for fans decades since its release, with opinions on both sides of the love-hate fence being thrown with equal gusto. Artist Rutherford Chang takes it to the next level, however, saying that he likes the album cover best when it takes on a little bit of wear and tear.
Chang has been collecting copies of the Fab Four’s White Album across the globe for years now, no matter the condition of the record. He has his preference, however, prioritizing first-edition copies (later pressings with the serial number and embossed “The Beatles” logo on the cover) and those that aren’t in mint condition. He even values copies whose owners have done their own artwork on the cover and accepts those with staining as well.
He told the New York Times: “I was interested in the different ways that the covers aged. Being an all-white cover, the changes are apparent. The serial numbers made collecting them seem natural, and the more I got, the more interesting it became. As you see, many of them are written on, and each has a story. The accumulation of the stories is part of it. But it’s also about how the physical object — the record — just doesn’t exist anymore.”
Chang had already displayed his collection in 2013, clocking in at around 700 copies, at the Recess Gallery in New York’s Soho neighborhood. He designed it to look like a record store, with divider cards that segregated the records by serial number. Chang wasn’t contented with this, however, using the space to buy more copies than offload what he already owned.
The exhibit, called the “We Buy White Albums”, only ran for a few months but can be viewed online via his Instagram account as Chang updates it regularly, with it containing around 2,700 posts to date. His collection is also a part of the current exhibit at Kunsthal Rotterdam.
The White Album’s cover was designed by Richard Hamilton who went that route after Paul McCartney told him to go minimalist as a contrast to the Sgt. Peppers album’s visual overload. Hamilton did an all-white cover with only a raised “The Beatle” print on a slight angle and a serial number on the lower right corner, saying that the latter’s reason was “to create the ironic situation of a numbered edition of something like 5 million copies.”