Christian Marclay in San Francisco

Two separate exhibitions showcase the contemporary visual artist's keen eye and ear

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On a sunny afternoon in San Francisco, sitting in a dark room watching Christian Marclay‘s masterpiece, “The Clock,” provokes a certain anxiety about the passage of time, yet at the same time leaves you unable to pull yourself away from watching what will happen next. While what follows is slightly obvious—the 24-hour-long video shows the time in an actual real-time format by stringing together thousands of movie clips displaying the hour and minute on a clock—the predictable chronology is presented in the most clever, deft, humorous and riveting way possible.


“The Clock” is addictive. Only a few copies of the elusive film exist in museum collections, and has only shown for brief periods at select institutions around the world since its sensational London premiere and subsequent showing at the Venice Biennale in 2011. This is a visual experience not to miss.


“The Clock” may be an achievement difficult to match, yet another beautifully staged exhibition just a few blocks away at Fraenkel Gallery provides a glimpse into Marclay’s passion for music. “Things I’ve Heard” is an exhibition of 50 small-scale color photographs taken by Marclay over a 15-year period that are focused on sound-related subject matter. Marclay’s eye for sound is both sharp and whimsical, finding a painted ear on a brick wall in Montreal and a “Honk If You Love Silence” bumper sticker in Chicago.


Demonstrating their own keen eye for sound, the curators at Fraenkel Gallery supplement Marclay’s works with a selection of photographs of similar subject matter from many of the exceptional artists they represent. Included in this portion of the exhibition is an entire wall of Lee Friedlander‘s colorful images of jazz musicians, a close-up photograph of an ear by Nicholas Nixon and a series of dancing people by Garry Winogrand, who’s eponymous solo exhibition is also currently on show at SFMOMA.

Visit SFMOMA now to see “The Clock“, which will run through 2 June. Fraenkel Gallery’s “Things I’ve Heard” will remain on view through 25 May. For a closer look at both exhibitions see the slideshow.