Lot 25
  • 25

Christian Marclay

70,000 - 100,000 GBP
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  • Christian Marclay
  • Skin Mix I
  • second-hand record covers, wood and screws

  • 160 by 96 by 32cm.
  • 63 by 37 3/4 by 12 5/8 in.
  • Executed in 1990.


Tom Cugliani Gallery, New York
Private Collection (acquired directly from the above)


Jenifer González, Kim Gordan, Matthew Higgs, Christian Marclay, London 2005, p. 139, illustrated in colour


Colour: the colours in the catalogue illustration are fairly accurate, although the colours are slightly more contrasted in the original. Condition: this work is in good and original condition, which is consinstent with the artist's choice of media of second hand record covers and as it is illustrated in the catalogue. There is slight undulation to a few of the covers and liftings to the corners. There are a number of minor creases to the covers, most notably to the top left corner of the top cover, to the top right corner of the middle-far-left cover, to the top left corner and centre of the bottom edge of the middle-far-right cover.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Christian Marclay is an artist and composer celebrated for his unique fusion of sound and image. Renowned for his unprecedented exploration of turntables and records in the late 1970s, Marclay created an art of unintended sounds. It was a moment when turntables were just beginning to enter the vernacular of disc jockeys and hip hop artists allowing them to revolutionize the possibilities of their sound. Marclay capitalized on this movement and took it one step further, making the turntable into an instrument and the act of turning discs into an independent art form.

From this moment forward, in performances, recordings, installations and exhibitions at clubs, concert halls, galleries and museums around the world, Marclay has taken the stereo components of sound that we take for granted and made them into expressive tools: "I'm interested in the sounds people don't want...the pops and the clicks and the scratches...Those are the sounds I want to use in my music." Fascinated by the sounds in a record that result from its deterioration, the surface noise and the scratches, he celebrated them, bringing them to the foreground instead of rejecting them. It was a way to make people aware they were listening to a record and not live music and a way of giving voice to the medium itself. He experimented with cutting vinyl records into different pies, pasting them together and then playing these new collages, testing the sounds they would then make. Each crack would become a click on the record and ultimately part of the overall sound of the recording. Soon he had produced a dizzying array of sound collages with no steady, reassuring beat to go along with them.

The present work, Skin Mix I which dates from 1990 marks the very inception of a new corpus within the artist's oeuvre. Subsequent to this work Marclay moved away from sound and began to use second-hand album covers as his medium, creating series called the Body Mixes. Drawing upon his vast collection of covers and collaging them into anthropomorphic and often humorous or grotesque amalgamations, Marclay explored the way music functions socially. Skin Mix I plays with the idea of attaching human qualities to inanimate objects as well as the relationship between the physical and mechanical. These works were inspired not only by the appropriation so flagrant in 1980's hop hop music and visual art but also the Duchampian notion of the readymade. "We have always tried to give objects a human quality. We project on them a body scale, a texture, shape that resemble us. We give machines — or see in them — anthropomorphic qualities. The machine is an extension of the human body and the record is a mechanical object." (Christian Marclay interviewed by J. Seliger, Journal of Contemporary Art, 1992, pp. 64-76) Marclay was investigating the relationship between music and the body which were becoming more and more intertwined due to the emergence of rock videos. He was subtly pointing a finger at certain advertising methods and accentuating the commodification of music.

It has now been over three decades that Christian Marclay has been creating art and music in the public sphere but he still remains at the cutting edge. Most recently at the 2011 Venice Biennale, Marclay was recognized as the best artist in the official exhibition, winning the Golden Lion for The Clock, a montage of film clips that runs for 24 hours and is made up of time references for every minute of the day. The work debuted at London's White Cube gallery in 2010 and like his Body Mixes and sound collages, splices together thousands of film clips of people looking at clocks. Perhaps his defining masterpiece thus far, each minute depicted onscreen is synched to coincide with the minute in real time as we are watching it. Marclay was also voted one of the ten most important artists of 2011by Newsweek and in homage to Warhol he thanked them for giving him "his fifteen minutes."  But in fact it has been many more than fifteen minutes, Marclay has been pushing the boundaries between visual art and music and exploring the limits of collage in photography, sculpture, video, sound and noise for over thirty years.