Art to listen to - Paris • Christian Marclay’s singular exhibition at the Pompidou Center

January 31, 2023

The anthology displays the entire career of the multimedia artist

The total art theorised by Wagner was music and images, the artistic avant-garde transferred it into life, and 20th century music, from jazz to rock, projected into the contemporary collective consciousness.
A musician today is an artist not only because he plays but because he constructs his own image as a work of art. Christian Marclay, a Swiss-American artist, has been embodying this metamorphosis of art since the 1970s, intuiting its potential and drawing inspiration from the lexicon of the 20th century music industry: music, certainly, but also instruments, packaging, graphics, advertising, derivative products. Until 27 February, the Pompidou Centre is showing an exhibition dedicated to his work, through an anthological exhibition tracing the artist’s career. Born in 1955 in San Rafael, California, to an American mother and a Swiss father, Christian Marclay began to take an interest in the New York experimental music scene in 1977, in no wave, organising post-conceptual performances in which music and action construct the work of art.


In 1979, he founded the duo The Bachelors with guitarist Kurt Henry, producing concerts with visual influences inspired by Fluxus. Christian Marclay is one of the pioneers of multimedia works, using vinyl records, record players, cassette tapes and videos as instruments of artistic realisation. Working in collage and montage, his work has extended over time to all the visual arts: assemblages. installations, photographs, prints, paintings, videos, into an overall open setting where the auditory dimension imposes itself, whether it is explicit or silently evoked. An artist of reproduction, of perceptive construction and deconstruction, Christian Marclay draws inspiration from the visual and sound repertoire of popular culture, structuring a world dominated by themes dear to post-industrial society.


His is inspired by John Cage, Andy Warhol, comic books and rock and punk aesthetics.
The exhibition presents the artist’s main installations: from the classic Guitar Drag (2000), where violence and destruction are tinged with political commentary, to Video Quartet (2002), four simultaneous projections that pay homage to music and cinema, to the more recent Surround Sound (2014-2015), built with animated onomatopoeias (words which sound like what they name), All Together (2018), made with snapchats and presented on smartphones, and Subtitled (2019), which silently combines
the subtitles of multiple films. Up to Doors, an installation conceived for the exhibition is an assemblage of photographs, record covers, modified musical instruments, prints, collages and paintings that constitute a polymorphic, choral fabric,asummaryoftheartist’s poetry.


The Author

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After attending the faculty of letters and philosophy in Pavia, he graduated in architecture from the Milan Polytechnic with a thesis about the urban form and the identity of place. He has always been in love with art and literature and, undecided about which to choose, he tried to carry on both his passions. Since 2006 he’s been writing first for ARTEiN and then on AW Art Mag. He lives and work in Paris, a city he loves and to which is bound by the eternal spirit of the artistic avant-garde lurking around its alleyways.

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