Museums Scrambling to Buy a “Clock”

02/01/2012 2:08 PM |

Only two clocks left!

  • Only two clocks left!

In September of last year MoMA scooped up one of six editions of Christian Marclay’s epic video collage “The Clock,” which, when it made its New York premiere a year ago at Paula Cooper Gallery, caused long lines to form all along 21st Street even during marathon overnight screenings. Its appeal for museums is obvious, and after LACMA bought the second edition and the Boston MFA and the National Gallery of Canada split the bill for another, three museums have pooled their resources to acquire the fourth edition of the video. Now they’ll just need to figure out who gets it on weekends and holidays.

The lucky new clock-watchers are Paris’s Pompidou, London’s Tate and Jerusalem’s Israel Museum, the latter of which paid a six-figure sum for its share of the 24-hour video made up of shots of timepieces in films, Bloomberg reports.

The video made its premiere in London in October 2010, and recently played at the Israel Museum, where it attracted some 50,000 visitors including 3,500 viewers during a 24-hour screening session. The Israel Museum’s director James Snyder says that each edition of the video has sold for the same price, but for his museum to buy it without help from the other two institutions would have been too costly.

In August of last year another “Clock” purchaser, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, got in trouble with Marclay for making his video the centerpiece of an expensive gala event. The artist explained that one of the conditions for showing the video is that visitors should have to pay no additional charges beyond the cost of admission: “It is my intention that my work be made equally accessible to all.”

Shared ownership of the work between museums in three different countries should help in that regard. But where will the remaining two editions end up? Acquisitions committees: the clock is ticking.


Follow Benjamin Sutton on Twitter @LMagArt

(Image courtesy Christian Marclay, Paula Cooper Gallery)