THE WHITNEY MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART has submitted a proposal to the City of New York for a public art project by David Hammons. Titled “Day’s End,” the architectural sculpture bridges the past and the present. It’s a contemporary art work grounded in history. The work would be sited directly across from the Whitney Museum in Hudson River Park on the southern reach of Gansevoort Peninsula.

Hammons’s vision is inspired by a 1975 work by Gordon Matta-Clark in which he cut five openings into the facades of the original Pier 52 shed. The concept for the new work is an open structure paying direct homage to the Matta-Clark work, resembling it in scale and location. Describing the proposed project as a “ghost monument” to the earlier work, the museum said the Hammons’s artwork would reference the history of the Hudson River waterfront—from the 19th and 20th century pier sheds present during the height of the shipping industry to its transition in the 1970s as an important gathering place for the gay community.

“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,” Adam D. Weinberg, Director of the Whitney Museum, said in a statement. “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 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. 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.” — Adam D. Weinberg, Director of Whitney Museum

On Oct. 4, Whitney Museum officials presented the proposal for “Day’s End” to Manhattan Community Board 2 at its Parks and Waterfront Committee meeting. The committee unanimously approved the plan. According to the New York Times, during the presentation, Weinberg said the idea for the installation came directly from Hammons. After visiting the museum’s new building in the Meatpacking District, the artist was taken with its views of the Hudson River, which motivated the project. Hammons reached out to the museum sharing a sketch of what he had in mind for the public art work.

The museum provided the following details about the proposed work:

    Affixed to the shore on the south edge of Gansevoort Peninsula, the structure would extend over the water and be secured by slim piles. Employing the thinnest possible support system, the proposed work, composed of stainless steel, would appear evanescent and ethereal, seeming to shimmer and almost disappear, changing with the light of day and atmospheric conditions.
 


David Hammons (b. 1943), Sketch for Day’s End, a proposed public art project. | Courtesy Whitney Museum

 

IN AN EFFORT TO DOCUMENT the public art project and further explore and preserve the history of the Hudson River waterfront and Gansevoort Peninsula neighborhood, the museum plans a series of education and community programs, along with extensive media initiatives, including oral history interviews, a documentary film, publication, and online and mobile content.

Madelyn Wils, Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT) President & CEO said: “We think ‘Day’s End’ is an inspiring idea that celebrates the history of the Hudson River waterfront. We look forward to hearing the community’s thoughts, and, should the project move forward, to working with the Whitney to make this a vibrant addition to Hudson River Park.”

The project has a number of additional hurdles to clear before development can begin. The museum told Culture Type that it is preparing for an appearance before the full Community Board later this month. Then formal approval is required by several agencies including the Army Corps of Engineers. The proposal must also pass through the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) process.

“The Whitney, HRPT, and the artist are all committed to ensuring that the artwork becomes an integral part of the local area and waterfront fabric—as the working piers that preceded it were before—and we will continue to share our plans with the community over the coming months,” the museum added.

NEW YORK-BASED HAMMONS was born in Springfield, Ill. A critically successful artist who has inspired generations, his conceptual practice comments on race, politics and society-at-large and spans printmaking, painting and drawing, installation, performance and mixed-media sculpture. From the late 1960s to mid 1970s, Hammons lived and worked in Los Angeles where he was part of a group of pioneering artists and jazz musicians ensconced in LA’s black arts scene. He moved to New York in 1974 and garnered equal fascination for his wry, innovative approach to art making and his disinterest in the traditional structure of the fine art world.

The announcement that David Hammons’s is engaging with the Whitney Museum on a new Hudson River public art project marks the artist’s second current collaboration with a major museum in the city. Hammons is also presenting a special installation at the Museum of Modern Art, pairing works from its collection by Charles White and Leonardo da Vinci. “Charles White—Leonardo da Vinci. Curated by David Hammons” opens Oct. 7.

Given the protracted review process, there is no date set to unveil the Hammons riverfront installation. The Whitney Museum told Culture Type that once the proposed project is approved, construction of “Day’s End” would require about eight to 10 months. CT

 

TOP IMAGE: Rendering of the proposed project, “Day’s End” by David Hammons, as seen from the Whitney Museum of American Art. | Courtesy Guy Nordenson and Associates

 

BOOKSHELF
The Whitney Museum of American Art plans a publication to document “Day’s End.” Also forthcoming, the Museum of Modern Art is publishing “Charles White: Black Pope” to coincide with the “Charles White—Leonardo da Vinci. Curated by David Hammons” exhibition. Over the years, David Hammons’s work has been documented in a number of collectible catalogs. Published in 1991, “David Hammons: Rousing the Rubble” celebrates two decades of his practice. “L.A. Object & David Hammons Body Prints,” offers an historical overview of the artist’s practice and the Los Angeles assemblage movement of the 1960s and 70s. More recently, catalogs accompanied important exhibitions at Mnuchin Gallery in New York (“David Hammons: Five Decades”), a career survey billed as the first of its kind in 25 years, and the George Economou Collection in Athens (“David Hammons: Give Me a Moment”), the artist’s first major show in Greece, and first survey in Europe. A rare interview with Hammons conducted by art historian Kellie Jones appears in her book “EyeMinded: Living and Writing Contemporary Art.”

 


Rendering of proposed project, “Day’s End” by David Hammons, looking west from the terrace of the Whitney Museum of American Art. | Courtesy Guy Nordenson and Associates.

 


Rendering of proposed project, “Day’s End” by David Hammons, looking east from Gansevoort Peninsula. | Courtesy Guy Nordenson and Associates.