LACMA acquires ‘The Clock’ by Christian Marclay and a sculpture by Ai Weiwei through annual collecting event


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Last month Culture Monster reported that the L.A. County Museum of Art was working to acquire Christian Marclay’s 2010 video hit “The Clock,” a 24-hour-long movie-montage that museum director Michael Govan called a “virtual history’ of film. Now the acquisition is a done deal, thanks to an annual fundraising event at the museum known as Collectors Committee weekend.

The museum made a total of eight acquisitions this weekend, valued together at approximately $2.7 million. Another high-profile purchase was a 2006 spherical sculpture by the Chinese artist-activist Ai Weiwei, who is in the news this month because of his detainment by Chinese authorities. The sculpture, which pays homage to traditional Chinese woodworking through its use of huanghuali (a type of rosewood) and its mortise-and-tenon construction, was purchased for $400,000 from the Friedman Benda gallery in New York.

The remaining acquisitions were a prototype of a pine desk designed by minimalist artist Donald Judd in 1978 for $350,000; a 1969 painted plastic wall-sculpture by Craig Kauffman for $170,000; a Japanese Buddha head sculpted from cypress wood around AD 1000-1050 for $422,000; a set of three Spanish colonial ‘casta’ (or mixed-race narrative) paintings from 1760 by Juan Patricio Morlete Ruiz for $598,000; a 16th-century checkerboard-patterned Peruvian textile for $250,000; and a circa 13th-century Mexican painted ceramic featuring serpent-human forms for $60,000.

Half of the weekend’s acquisitions were made by popular vote, as dozens of LACMA supporters paid $15,000 per couple to buy tickets to the Saturday night gala, thereby funding an acquisition kitty and giving them voting rights that night to decide among acquisitions proposed by museum curators.


But individual donors also stepped forward to fund particular artworks that moved them. With Marclay’s “The Clock,” Hollywood film producer and New York Giants Chairman Steve Tisch, who became a LACMA trustee last year, pledged the $467,500 needed to buy the work before voting began.

A 24-hour-long meditation on the nature and artifice of time, ‘The Clock’ consists of thousands of film (and to a lesser degree, television) clips that feature clocks, watches and other timepieces, edited together so that the time you see on screen reflects the current time.

The work drew serious crowds at Marclay’s galleries in London and New York but has not yet been shown on the West Coast. LACMA plans to screen the work at its Bing Theater in May.

[UPDATE 4/19/11: LACMA originally cited the price for the three ‘casta’ paintings as $570,500, which was noted in a previous version of this post; the correct price is noted above.]

-- Jori Finkel



Demonstrators in L.A. show support for Ai Weiwei

L.A.’s big art day packed with presentations, acquisitions

LACMA looking to buy Christian Marclay video art hit ‘The Clock’

Image, above: Christian Marclay’s ‘The Clock,’ 2010, single-channel video, edition 6 of 6; courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York and White Cube, London. Photo by Todd-White Art Photography. Gift of Steve Tisch. Below: Ai Weiwei’s ‘Untitled (Divine Proportion),’ 2006, Huanghuali wood; courtesy of Friedman Benda and the artist. Photo by Giovanni Tarifeno. Gift of 2011 Collectors Committee.