MoMA Art Announces the Acquisition of Christian Marclay’s The Clock

An idea that took three intensive years to realize with the support of six researchers, Marclay edited The Clock entirely alone.

The Museum of Modern Art has acquired Christian Marclay’s groundbreaking 24-hour video installation The Clock (2010), announced MoMA Director Glenn D. Lowry on September 28th. The work is a promised gift from the collection of Jill and Peter Kraus. Mrs. Kraus is a trustee of the Museum.

“Created with virtuosic skill by the artist, The Clock is a tour de force of mixing, editing, and montage as it draws attention to time as a multifaceted protagonist of cinematic narrative,” said Mr. Lowry. “We are grateful to Jill and Peter Kraus for this generous promised gift to the Museum.”

In The Clock, Marclay samples thousands of film excerpts to form a 24-hour montage, which unfolds in real time. Appropriated from cinema’s rich history, each clip displays a watch or clock taken from chase scenes, board rooms, emergency wards, bank heists, trysts, high noon shootouts, detective dramas, or silent comedies. An idea that took three intensive years to realize with the support of six researchers, Marclay edited The Clock entirely alone. Towards the end of production, his longtime collaborator Quentin Chiappetta assisted with continuity, melding the actual sound between the disparate clips. This acoustic glue provided the fluidity that makes Marclay’s composition so riveting in its flow.

Born in California in 1955 and raised in Geneva, Switzerland, where he attended the École Supérieure d’Art Visuel, Christian Marclay moved to Boston and graduated from the Massachusetts College of Art. Known as a pioneer of the use of gramophone records and turntables as musical instruments to create sound collages, Marclay has inventively explored the fusion of fine art and audio cultures, transforming sounds and music into a visible, physical form through performance, collage, sculpture, installation, photography, and video.

“With his magnum opus The Clock, Marclay highlights the virtuosity of sampling and remixing as contemporary methods that underline the importance of editing as a highly creative process,” said Sabine Breitwieser, Chief Curator of Media and Performance Art, The Museum of Modern Art. “While the sound functions as the glue for Marclay’s film essay, which walks us through more than 100 years of the history of cinema, it is an inherently performative work due to the connection between the work and the visitor’s experience in real time.”

The Museum’s plans to exhibit the work will be announced at a later date.