Race Against Time: Museums Stampede to Buy Christian Marclay's Blockbuster Video Installation "The Clock"

Race Against Time: Museums Stampede to Buy Christian Marclay's Blockbuster Video Installation "The Clock"
Time is of the essence when it comes to scooping up a hot contemporary artwork, a fact of which the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, New York's Museum of Modern Art, and London's Tate Modern all seem acutely aware. The Art Newspaper reports that these major institutions are in negotiations to each buy one of the six editions of Christian Marclay's video "The Clock." Meanwhile, Marclay's New York representative, Paula Cooper Gallery, has also confirmed to ARTINFO that the 24-hour film will be Marclay's contribution to the Bice Curiger-curated "ILLUMInations" exhibition at the 54th annual Venice Biennale.

The work dazzled gallerygoers, who braved long lines — outside Paula Cooper in Chelsea earlier this year and outside London's White Cube gallery last October — to view its spliced-together clips of clocks and watches, culled from movies and TV shows, which match up with the real time of the viewers. The spectacle was such a crowd-pleaser that New York mag critic Jerry Saltz basically commanded area museums to pay attention, stating that "one of our local museums ought to buy and place on permanent mesmerizing view as soon as possible" — an exhortation that has apparently been taken seriously.

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According to the Art Newspaper, if LACMA purchases the work, the museum's director Michael Govan plans to project it onto the museum's façade. Govan told the Los Angeles Times, however, that such a display would "require working closely with the artist, and that's the next step after you buy it." While the Art Newspaper originally reported that Govan sought to acquire Marclay's video for $400,000, both LACMA and Paula Cooper gallery have since called in corrections, citing this price as incorrect. And while LACMA has stated that "The Clock" will be presented to the museum's collectors committee in April for approval, neither the Tate or MoMA have publicly announced their plans for acquiring the work.

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