Christian Marclay, ‘Untitled (Luciano Pavarotti, Halo and Four Mix Tapes II)’, 2008, Phillips

From the Catalogue:
Utilizing the cyanotype, a cameraless process widely associated with the nineteenth century and characterized by its signature vibrant Prussian-blue tones, the photograms created by Christian Marclay showcase his multifaceted and expansive language in art making. Sometimes called a “Dadist DJ,” Marclay works across all art forms—music, video, performance, sculpture, and photography—and in this series, further delves into the representation of music and materials through photograms.

Although the cyanotype series was produced between 2007-2009 in collaboration with Graphicstudio, Marclay’s images are well-informed by artists and movements of the past. The silhouettes of audio cassettes and their unfurling tape honor one of the earliest photographic techniques, while connecting with the exploration of early avant-garde photograms by Man Ray (lot 301) and Moholy-Nagy. The movement inherent in the composition additionally harkens back to the great Abstract Expressionist painters such as Jackson Pollock. Marclay’s selection of subject matter, cassette tapes found in thrift shops around Tampa, Florida, elevates this largely obsolete recording method through an equally outmoded photographic process. His varied cassette configurations formed by commingling the long spools of both renowned artists such as Luciano Pavarotti, R.E.M., Barbara Streisand, Rod Stewart, and Madonna’s music with swaths of nameless generic mixed tapes give a universal leveling in their new representation. His ingenious pairing of subject matter and process along with his descriptive titles form a conceptually rich and dynamic series--all of which is present in the work on offer. The precision in execution of capturing the swirling tape through the expansive spectrum of shades of Prussian-blue create an opus full of sound and light. Marclay’s modern cyanotype of six cassette tapes unspooled here have transcended their original form into a piercing blue masterwork.

Other unique cyanotypes by Christian Marclay from this collaboration are located in the permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Brooklyn Museum of Art; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Courtesy of Phillips

Signature: Signed and dated in pencil on the verso.

Paula Cooper Gallery, New York
Christie's, London, Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Sale, 28 June 2012, lot 331

About Christian Marclay

Christian Marclay transforms sounds and music into visible, physical form through a prolific range of performances, collages, sculptures, installations, photographs, and videos. “I’ve always been interested in how sound is visualized,” he explains. Marclay began exploring sound in 1979, in performances in which he would manipulate turntables, playing them as if they were traditional instruments. More recently, he has explored his interest in a related abstract concept—time—by compiling clips from an enormous range of films into a 24-hour, single-channel video titled The Clock (2010). Part working timepiece (it runs in sync with the local time zone), part aural and visual montage (the work includes snatches of dialogue about time and sounds and images of every kind of clock imaginable), the film is a meditation both on time and the depiction of it.

Swiss-American, b. 1955, San Rafael, California, based in New York, New York