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Christian Marclay

Christian Marclay
Marclay at the 2012 Time 100 gala
Born Christian Ernest Marclay
11 January 1955 (11 January 1955)
San Rafael, Marin County, California
Nationality Swiss-American
Known for Visual artist, Composer

Christian Ernest Marclay[1] (born 11 January 1955) is a Swiss and American visual artist and composer.

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."[2] 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.[3]


  • Life and career 1
  • Selected exhibitions 2
  • Artist books 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5
  • Interviews 6

Life and career

Christian Marclay was born on 11 January 1955 in San Rafael, Marin County, California, to a Swiss father and an American mother and raised in Geneva, Switzerland.[3][4][5][6] 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), and the Cooper Union in New York (1978).[3][6] As a student he was notably interested in Joseph Beuys and the Fluxus movement of the 1960s and 1970s.[7] Long based in Manhattan, Marclay has in recent years divided his time between New York and London.[8]

Drawn to the energy of punk rock, Marclay 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.[9] These duos with Henry might be the first time a musician used records and turntables as interactive, improvising musical instruments.[10]

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

Marclay sometimes manipulates or damages records to produce continuous loops and skips,[11] 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.[9] 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[12] – 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 Album Without a Cover on Neutral Records in 1986, "...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.[13]

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."[14]

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.

At the 2011 Venice Biennale, representing the United States of America, Marclay was recognised as the best artist in the official exhibition, winning the Golden Lion for The Clock, a 24-hour compilation of time-related scenes from movies that debuted at London's White Cube gallery in 2010. Newsweek responded by naming Marclay one of the ten most important artists of today.[15] Accepting the Golden Lion, Marclay invoked Andy Warhol, thanking the jury "for giving The Clock its fifteen minutes".[16]

Selected exhibitions

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

Artist books

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


  1. ^ According to the State of California. California Birth Index, 1905–1995. Center for Health Statistics, California Department of Health Services, Sacramento, California. Searchable at
  2. ^ More Encores: Christian Marclay Plays with the Records Of ...All Music Review of (1988). Retrieved 25 June 2011.
  3. ^ a b c European Graduate School Biography. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
  4. ^ California Birth Index, 1905–1995. Retrieved 25 June 2011. Membership required.
  5. ^ White Cube Biography. Retrieved 25 June 2011.]
  6. ^ a b Paula Cooper Gallery Biography. Accessed 25 June 2011.
  7. ^ All Music Biography. Accessed 25 June 2011.
  8. ^ Blake Gopnik, "The 10 Most Important Artists of Today", Newsweek, 5 June 2011. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
  9. ^ a b Jason Gross, "Interview with Christian Marclay", Perfect Sound Forever, March 1998. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
  10. ^ Kjetil Falkenberg Hansen, "Turntable Music". Link dead 25 June 2011.
  11. ^ Salomé Voegelin, Listening to Noise and Silence: Towards a Philosophy of Sound Art (London: Continuum, 2010), pp. 60–62.
  12. ^ Salomé Voegelin, Listening to Noise and Silence: Towards a Philosophy of Sound Art (London: Continuum, 2010), pp. 60–61.
  13. ^ Smith, R.J. (January 1986). "Review of Album Without a Cover". Spin 1 (9) (SPIN Media via Google Books). p. 32.  
  14. ^ Live ImprovisationsAll Music Review of (1994). Retrieved 25 June 2011.
  15. ^ Blake Gopnik, "The 10 Most Important Artists of Today", Newsweek, 5 June 2011. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^

External links

  • Seiler+Mosseri-Marlio Galerie: Upcoming Exhibits.
  • White Cube: Christian Marclay.
  • European Graduate School: Christian Marclay.
  • Christian Marclay Discography.
  • Christian Marclay, de la musique aux sons (in French).
  • Audio of "Tabula Rasa" (2005) for three turntables and cutting lathe by Christian Marclay and Flo Kaufmann. Site broken 25 June 2011.
  • (1997).Records 1981–1989Audio of "Phonodrum" by Christian Marclay from
  • The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl.
  • , January 1986.Spin (1986), Album Without a CoverReview of
  • Winnipeg Art Gallery: Christian Marclay's The Clock


  • (Spring 1992).Journal of Contemporary Art
  • (March 1998).Perfect Sound Forever
  • Interview with Akira Sanematsu (28 March 2002).
  • (July 2003). Site broken 25 June 2011.KultureFlash
  • (12 June 2006).Some Assembly Required
  • (1 March 2008).Daily Telegraph
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