The Whitney Museum of American Art revealed the design of the large-scale public artwork by David Hammons that it has proposed to install along the southern edge of the Gansevoort Peninsula in Hudson River Park.
Titled Day’s End, the 373-foot-long and 50-foot-tall work draws inspiration from a 1975 Gordon Matta-Clark artwork for which the artist cut five openings into the original Pier 52 shed. A statement released by the museum calls Hammons’s skeletal stainless-steel sculpture a “‘ghost monument’ to the earlier work.” Located directly across from the museum, the piece alludes to the history of New York’s waterfront, the heyday of the city’s shipping industry, and the site’s later significance as a gathering place for the LGBTQ community.
According to the New York Times, Hammons—whose survey at Mnuchin Gallery was reviewed by Sampada Aranke in Artforum’s September 2016 issue—first approached the museum about the project shortly after he visited its new building. The artist drew up a sketch of the piece and sent it to the Whitney. The institution then began discussions with structural engineer Guy Nordenson to conceive of a plan on how to build the sculpture. While the Hudson River Park Trust has approved of the project, the organization is still in discussions with the Whitney regarding how the maintenance of the work will be funded.
“The Whitney hopes to set forth on this journey with David Hammons, an internationally acclaimed artist with longtime ties to the museum and deep roots in New York,” said director Adam D. Weinberg. “Just steps away from the Whitney, Day’s End would bring a part of this neighborhood’s creative history to life and make what we believe would be an important contribution to our community and the city.”
The museum is also working to develop programs that will engage the community. Members of the institution’s staff plan to conduct oral-history interviews with local residents to preserve stories of the Hudson River waterfront and the Gansevoort Peninsula neighborhood, as well as document building of the Day’s End project. Officials from the Whitney presented the proposal for the work to Manhattan Community Board 2 at its Parks and Waterfront Committee meeting on October 4, which unanimously approved the plans.
News about the project was first reported when Barry Diller decided to pull his financial support from the planned $250 million cultural pier and public park that would have also been built in the Hudson. Since many critics of the project were concerned about the environmental impact it would have, Weinberg is set on being as transparent as possible about the project. He emphasized that while the work will extend into the water, it will rest on twelve pilings spaced sixty-five feet apart—with six of the pilings in the water—with little effect on the natural environment.