Christian Marclay

Christian Marclay (born January 11, 1955) is a visual artist and composer. He holds both American and Swiss nationality.

Christian Marclay
Christian Marclay 2012 Shankbone.JPG
Marclay at the 2012 Time 100 gala
Christian Marclay

(1955-01-11) 11 January 1955 (age 67)
San Rafael, California
NationalitySwiss; American
Known forVisual artist, composer
Notable workThe Clock

Marclay's work explores connections between sound, noise, photography, video, and film. A pioneer of using gramophone records and turntables as musical instruments to create sound collages, Marclay is, in the words of critic Thom Jurek, perhaps the "unwitting inventor of turntablism."[1] His own use of turntables and records, beginning in the late 1970s, was developed independently of but roughly parallel to hip hop's use of the instrument.[2]

Early life and educationEdit

Christian Marclay was born on January 11, 1955 in San Rafael, Marin County, California, to a Swiss father and an American mother and raised in Geneva, Switzerland.[3][4] He studied at the Ecole Supérieure d'Art Visuel in Geneva (1975–1977), the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston (1977–1980, Bachelor of Fine Arts) in the Studio for Interrelated Media Program, and the Cooper Union in New York (1978).[2][4] As a student he was notably interested in Joseph Beuys and the Fluxus movement of the 1960s and 1970s.[5] Long based in Manhattan, Marclay has in recent years divided his time between New York and London.[6]


Citing the influence of John Cage, Yoko Ono and Vito Acconci, Marclay has long explored the rituals around making and collecting music.[7] Drawn to the energy of punk rock, he began creating songs, singing to music on pre-recorded backing tapes. Unable to recruit a drummer for his 1979 performances with guitarist Kurt Henry, Marclay used the regular rhythms of a skipping LP record as a percussion instrument.[8] These duos with Henry might be the first time a musician used records and turntables as interactive, improvising musical instruments.[9]

Christian Marclay at Hallwalls in Buffalo, New York, 16 November 1985

Marclay sometimes manipulates or damages records to produce continuous loops and skips,[10] and has said he generally prefers inexpensive used records purchased at thrift shops, as opposed to other turntablists who often seek out specific recordings. In 1998 he claimed never to have paid more than US$1 for a record.[8] Marclay has occasionally cut and re-joined different LP records; when played on a turntable, these re-assembled records will combine snippets of different music in quick succession along with clicks or pops from the seams[11] – typical of noise music – and when the original LPs were made of differently-colored vinyl, the reassembled LPs can themselves be considered as works of art.

Some of Marclay's musical pieces are carefully recorded and edited plunderphonics-style; he is also active in free improvisation. He was filmed performing a duo with Erikm for the documentary Scratch. His scene didn't make the final cut, but is included among the DVD extras.

Marclay released Record Without a Cover on Recycled Records in 1985, "...designed to be sold without a jacket, not even a sleeve!" Accumulating dust and fingerprints would enhance the sound. A review in Spin at the time cited Marclay's "coolest theatrical gesture" in his live performances of phonoguitar: the artist strapped a record player onto himself and played, for example, a Jimi Hendrix album.[12] In Five Cubes (1989), he melted vinyl records into cubes. In the 1980s and early '90s, he invented album covers. The Sound of Silence (1988) is a black-and-white photograph of the Simon & Garfunkel single of the same title.

Following this turn, Marclay has in more recent years produced visual art, although usually of representations of sound, or the various technologies of representing sound. His Graffiti Composition (2002) posted musical notes on walls around Berlin, compiled photographs of them as they faded, and is performed in concert. Shuffle (2007) and Ephemera (2009) are also musical scores. In Sound Holes (2007), he photographed the many patterns of speaker holes on intercoms. From 2007-2009 he worked with cyanotype at Graphicstudio to capture the motion of cassette tapes unspooling. And an interest in onomatopoeia dating back to 1989 has culminated in his monumental Manga Scroll (2010), a 60-foot scroll of cartoon interjections that doubles as a musical score.[13]

In 2010 he produced The Clock, a 24-hour compilation of time-related scenes from movies that debuted at London's White Cube gallery in 2010.[14] In 2016 he produced Made to Be Destroyed, a compilation of film clips showing the destruction of art works or buildings.[15]

Thom Jurek writes that "While many intellectuals have made wild pronouncements about Marclay and his art – and it is art, make no mistake – writing all sorts of blather about how he strips the adult century bare by his cutting up of vinyl records and pasting them together with parts from other vinyl records, they never seem to mention that these sound collages of his are charming, very human, and quite often intentionally hilarious."[16]

Marclay has performed and recorded both solo and in collaboration with many musicians, including John Zorn, William Hooker, Elliott Sharp, Otomo Yoshihide, Butch Morris, Shelley Hirsch, Flo Kaufmann and Crevice; he has also performed with the group Sonic Youth, and in other projects with Sonic Youth's members.

Personal lifeEdit

Marclay began dating curator Lydia Yee in 1991, and the couple married in 2011.[17]


At the 2011 Venice Biennale, representing the United States of America, Marclay was recognized as the best artist in the official exhibition, winning the Golden Lion for The Clock. Newsweek responded by naming Marclay one of the ten most important artists of today.[18] Accepting the Golden Lion, Marclay invoked Andy Warhol, thanking the jury "for giving The Clock its fifteen minutes".[19] In 2013, Dale Eisinger of Complex ranked Berlin Mix the 17th best work of performance art in history.[20]

In 2015 the White Cube presented a major solo exhibition including a range of new work and a lively programme of weekly performances played by the London Sinfonietta and guests including Thurston Moore and Mica Levi.

Selected exhibitionsEdit

  • Christian Marclay – 1987 – The Clocktower, P.S. 1 Museum, New York City, USA
  • Directions: Christian Marclay – 1990 – Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., USA
  • Christian Marclay – 1991 – Interim Art, London, England
  • The Wind Section – 1992 – Galerie Jennifer Flay, Paris, France
  • Christian Marclay – 1993 – Margo Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles
  • Christian Marclay – 1994 – Daadgalerie, Berlin, Germany; and Fri-Art Centre d'art contemporain Kunsthalle, Fribourg, Switzerland
  • Amplification – 1995 – Chiesa San Staë, Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy
  • Accompagnement Musical – 1995 – Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, Geneva, Switzerland
  • Arranged and Conducted – 1997 – Kunsthaus, Zurich, Switzerland
  • Pictures at an Exhibition – 1997 – Whitney Museum of American Art at Philip Morris, New York City, USA
  • Christian Marclay – 1999 – Paula Cooper Gallery, New York City, USA
  • Replay – 2007 – Cité de la Musique, Paris, France
  • Replay – 2007–08 – Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Melbourne, Australia
  • Snap! – 2008 – Galerie Art and Essai, Rennes, France
  • Honk If You Love Silence – 2008 – Mamco, Geneva, Switzerland
  • You Said He Said She Said – 2008 – Seiler+Mosseri-Marlio Galerie, Zurich, Switzerland
  • Replay – 2009 – DHC/Art, Montréal, Canada
  • Broken English – 2009 – Seiler+Mosseri-Marlio Galerie, Zurich, Switzerland (with Justin Bennett, Shana Lutker, Euan Macdonald, Navid Nuur and Mungo Thomson)
  • Vinyl – 2009 – Lydgalleriet, Bergen, Norway (with Flo Kaufmann, Janek Schaefer and Otomo Yoshihide)
  • The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl – 2010 – Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA
  • The Clock – 15 October to 13 November 2010 – White Cube, London, England
  • The Clock – 21 January to 19 February 2011 – Paula Cooper Gallery, New York City, USA
  • The Clock – 16 February to 17 April 2011 – Hayward Gallery, London, England
  • The Clock – 26 May to 31 July 2011 – Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles
  • The Clock – 4 June to 27 November 2011 – Corderie dell'Arsenale, Venice Biennale, Italy
  • The Clock – 23 August to 20 October 2011 – Israel Museum, Jerusalem
  • The Clock – 3 to 5 September 2011 – MNAM (Musée National d'Art Moderne - Centre Pompidou), Paris, France
  • The Clock – 19 September to 31 December 2011 – Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, USA
  • Ephemera – Christian Marclay, 8 to 15 October, galerie mfc-michèle didier, Paris.
  • The Clock – 10 February to 21 May 2012 (extended) – National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Canada
  • The Clock – March to June 2012 – Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia
  • The Clock – 14 September to 25 November 2012 – The Power Plant Gallery, Toronto, Canada
  • The Clock – 7 January to 7 April 2013 – Wexner Center for the Arts Columbus, Ohio, USA
  • The Clock – 11 October 2013 to 5 January 2014 – Winnipeg Art Gallery Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada[21]
  • The Clock - 6 March 2014 - 18 May 2014 - Guggenheim Bilbao Bilbao, Biscay, Spain
  • The Clock - 17 May 2014 to 2 July 2014 - MNAM (Musée National d'Art Moderne - Centre Pompidou), Paris, France
  • The Clock - 4 July to 15 September 2014 - Centre Pompidou Metz, Metz, France
  • The Clock - 14 September 2018 - 20 January 2019 - Tate Modern, London, England [22]
  • Sound Stories - 25 August 2019 - 11 November 2019 - Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles [23]

Artist booksEdit

  • Ephemera, Bruxelles, mfc-michèle didier, 2009. Limited edition of 90 numbered and signed copies and 10 artist’s proofs. Voir mfc-michèle didier


  1. ^ All Music Review of More Encores: Christian Marclay Plays with the Records Of ... (1988). Retrieved 25 June 2011.
  2. ^ a b European Graduate School Biography Archived 27 May 2010 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
  3. ^ White Cube Biography., Retrieved 25 June 2011.
  4. ^ a b Paula Cooper Gallery Biography., Accessed 25 June 2011.]
  5. ^ Christian Marclay. "Christian Marclay | Biography, Albums, Streaming Links". AllMusic. Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  6. ^ Blake Gopnik, "The 10 Most Important Artists of Today", Newsweek, 5 June 2011. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
  7. ^ Rachel Donado (27 February 2015), Splat! Beep! This Artist Sees in Sound The New York Times.
  8. ^ a b Jason Gross, "Interview with Christian Marclay" Archived 4 October 2003 at the Wayback Machine, Perfect Sound Forever, March 1998. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
  9. ^ Kjetil Falkenberg Hansen, "Turntable Music" Archived 1 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine. Link dead 25 June 2011.
  10. ^ Salomé Voegelin, Listening to Noise and Silence: Towards a Philosophy of Sound Art (London: Continuum, 2010), pp. 60–62.
  11. ^ Salomé Voegelin, Listening to Noise and Silence: Towards a Philosophy of Sound Art (London: Continuum, 2010), pp. 60–61.
  12. ^ Smith, R.J. (January 1986). "Review of Album Without a Cover". Spin. Vol. 1, no. 9. p. 32. ISSN 0886-3032. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
  13. ^ Tallman, Susan. "To the Last Syllable of Recorded Time: Christian Marclay," Art in Print, Vol. 6 No. 4 (November–December 2016).
  14. ^ "'It's impossible!' – Christian Marclay and the 24-hour clock made of movie clips | Art and design". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  15. ^ "Christian Marclay | Made To Be Destroyed (2016)". Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  16. ^ Thom Jurek. "Live Improvisations - Christian Marclay | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  17. ^ Zalewski, Daniel (12 March 2012). "The Hours". The New Yorker. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  18. ^ Blake Gopnik, "The 10 Most Important Artists of Today", Newsweek, 5 June 2011. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
  19. ^ Andrew M. Goldstein and Julia Halperin, Rundown of the Winners of the Golden and Silver Lions at the 54th Venice Biennale", ARTINFO, 6 June 2011. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
  20. ^ Eisinger, Dale (9 April 2013). "The 25 Best Performance Art Pieces of All Time". Complex. Retrieved 28 February 2021.
  21. ^ "WAG | the Clock". Archived from the original on 10 November 2013. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
  22. ^ "Christian Marclay: The Clock – Exhibition at Tate Modern". Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  23. ^ "Christian Marclay: Sound Stories | LACMA". Retrieved 10 November 2019.

External linksEdit