On April 29, 2021, the Whitney announced the completion of David Hammons’s permanent public sculpture Day’s End (2021), one of the largest public art projects completed in the United States this year. Located in Hudson River Park along the southern edge of Gansevoort Peninsula, directly across from the Museum, Day’s End was developed in collaboration with the artist and Hudson River Park Trust. The sculpture derives its inspiration and name from multi-media artist Gordon Matta-Clark’s 1975 intervention in which he cut openings into the existing, abandoned Pier 52 shed. With exquisite simplicity, Hammons’s artwork traces the outlines, dimensions, and location of the original Pier 52 shed in slender steel pipes. Visible from numerous vantage points at the Museum and from multiple locations along the Hudson River Park promenade, the sculpture measures 52 feet high at its peak, 325 feet long, and 65 feet wide.
“David Hammons’s Day’s End is situated on public land; it is not owned by the Whitney; rather, it is owned by everyone and by no one, open and free to all. Day’s End appears evanescent and ethereal, changing with the light of day and atmospheric conditions,” said Adam D. Weinberg, Alice Pratt Brown Director of the Whitney. “The sculpture was made possible by our collaborators: the Hudson River Park Trust, the many fabricators and contractors from five countries, the Whitney’s project team, and a select group of brave and visionary donors, not to mention the artist himself. We are deeply grateful to Hammons and the Trust for their collaboration and to the many individuals, foundations, government and corporate partners that have supported this seven-year undertaking. Day’s End embodies the Museum’s mission in supporting living artists to realize their visions, serving the community, and connecting to the public through art.”
The YouTube video above features interviews with Darren Walker (President, Ford Foundation), Lorna Simpson (Artist), Alex Fialho (Programs Director, Visual AIDS), Scott Rothkopf (Deputy Director for Programs and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator), Adam D. Weinberg (Alice Pratt Brown Director), and Guy Nordenson (Structural Engineer).
Day’s End alludes to the history of New York’s waterfront, from the heyday of the city’s shipping industry in the late nineteenth century to its role as a gathering place for the gay community in the 1970s. It is designed to be a centerpiece of the Hudson River Park Trust’s planned park at Gansevoort Peninsula, and the Whitney, the Trust, and Hammons are committed to ensuring that the artwork becomes an integral part of the local area and waterfront fabric—as were the working piers that preceded it. The Museum and the Trust will collaborate on a maintenance plan for Day’s End, and the Whitney will pay for the associated costs from its operating budget. The project has received unprecedented support from the City of New York and the west side arts community, as well as numerous historic preservation, LGBTQ, and environmental groups, among others.
Guy Nordenson and Associates (GNA), a New York–based structural engineering, research, and design practice, led the design and engineering effort for Day’s End and was responsible for the structural design and fabrication concept for the sculpture. Due to the complexity behind the engineering for the sculpture, GNA had to imagine not only how to fabricate and assemble the pencil lines at a large scale but also how to analyze this unusual structure. Hammons’s lines evolved into eight-inch structural beams and columns that utilize an intricate assembly of steel castings, pipes, and machined connections that work together systematically to achieve the ghostly form of Pier 52 evoked by the artist.
“Partnering with the Whitney to bring Day’s End to life within Hudson River Park is a great honor and privilege. Day’s End connects multiple layers of the site’s physical and social history while simultaneously enriching the park at the Gansevoort Peninsula and nearby,” said Noreen Doyle, Acting President of Hudson River Park Trust. “On behalf of the Hudson River Park Trust, we thank the artist, all the funders, and the Whitney Museum for this great gift and inspiring contribution to New York and Hudson River Park.”
In tandem with the project’s realization, the Whitney has produced the Museum’s first podcast, Artists Among Us, hosted by artist Carrie Mae Weems. The five-episode series both responds to and expands upon Day’s End as envisaged by Hammons and Matta-Clark, and uses the artwork as a jumping-off point for exploring the history and culture of the waterfront and the Meatpacking District. Artists Among Us will debut on May 14 and will be available for streaming on all major podcast services, including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify, as well as whitney.org.
To celebrate the completion of Day’s End and thank the community for its support, the Whitney will also offer free admission on May 16 from 11:30 am to 6 pm for Community Day. Throughout the day, the Museum’s current exhibitions will be on view and its outdoor spaces will be activated to present family programming, including drawing and printing workshops on the building’s terraces. Due to capacity limitations, and in compliance with health and safety regulations, visitors must reserve their free timed-entry tickets to Community Day in advance. Tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis starting May 5 at 12 pm at whitney.org.
Above, the installation in progress on the Hudson River Park’s Gansevoort Peninsula. This is one of the largest public art installations in New York City, taking its inspiration from Gordon Matta-Clark’s 1975 artwork by the same name.
David Hammons: Day’s End is located in Hudson River Park on the south edge of the Gansevoort Peninsula, the Whitney Museum of American Art, located on the esplanade near Pier 52 in the historic Meatpacking District.
In addition, David Hammons added six rarely-seen works to the ongoing exhibition, Body Prints: 1968-1979, at The Drawing Center. The works will be on view from Friday, April 16 through May 23, 2021. A second edition of the publication David Hammons: Body Prints, 1968–1979 will be released in May of 2021, and will include images of the six body prints that Hammons added to the installation and a revised introduction by Laura Hoptman.