MFA Boston and Christian Marclay Duel Over ‘The Clock’

saved MFA Boston and Christian Marclay Duel Over The Clock

A still from Christian Marclay's 2010 film "The Clock." (Photo: White Cube)

Just days after the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, announced that it would unveil its copy of artist Christian Marclay’s 24-hour film The Clock as part of a Sept. 17 party celebrating the opening of its new contemporary art wing, for which tickets cost $200, Mr. Marclay released a statement that seems to put him at odds with MFA officials.

Mr. Marclay writes, in a letter that was distributed by his London gallery, White Cube: “It has always been my express wish that there should be no additional charge to view my work The Clock, over and above any general admission price to an institution or any other venue, nor should it be used in connection with the promotion, advertisement or sponsorship of any person or business.”

A spokesperson for the MFA Boston, which purchased the work in conjunction with the National Gallery of Canada, responded delicately in the Boston Globe, saying, “The MFA is not charging to see The Clock; we are charging for the party.” MFA director Malcolm Rogers echoed that comment in a statement to press–”We regret that our plans for the opening party gave the impression that we are charging specifically for The Clock,” Mr. Rogers said.

While it is, of course, common for museums to allow wealthy donors, museum members and–yes–members of the press to see exhibitions before they open to the general public, the MFA’s decision effectively bars most of its visitors from seeing the complete film until almost a month after it opens, when the MFA Boston says that it will have a free 24-hour screening during Columbus Day weekend.

For now, the party, The Clock included, is still on.