An image from Christian Marclay’s Clock 2010. Photograph: Tate
A most useful work of art, Clock 2010, made by Christian Marclay by editing together thousands of clips of clocks, watches and time checks from films so that they tell the actual time as the video runs for 24 hours, has been acquired jointly by the Tate, the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
The three museums have agreed that it will be shown in only one at any given time. It is expected to return to the Tate in London this year.
When the piece was shown last year in Britain and at international venues including the Venice Biennale – where it won the Golden Lion award – gallery visitors found themselves hooked, watching it for hours and checking their own watches and mobile phones to confirm it really was telling precisely the right time.
Galleries arranged special night openings so visitors could keep up with it through the small hours. The film incorporates classic scenes such as Gary Cooper in High Noon, Woody Allen in Mighty Aphrodite at 2.59, and Patrick Macnee as John Steed looking at his elegant pocket watch at 12.05 in The Avengers.
Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate, said: "The joint acquisition of The Clock is a further example of Tate’s commitment to important media installations. We are delighted to yet again work in partnership with other major institutions, in this case Centre Pompidou and the Israel Museum, sharing the work with audiences across the world while also allowing the organisations to share expertise and raise the visibility of artists working in film and video."
Marclay, born in California in 1955 and based in London and New York, first became famous as a DJ in the underground music scenes of Boston and New York in the late 70s. The Tate already owns his 2002 Video Quartet, a four-screen projection that uses Hollywood movie clips of music moments including the Marx brothers.
A three-minute clip of Clock on YouTube comes with the plea only to watch it from four minutes past noon – and to wait, patiently clock-watching, if that point in the day has passed.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010