David Hammons: Day's End Groundbreaking

Sept 16, 2020

On September 16, 2019, guests gathered at the Whitney to celebrate the groundbreaking for a new work by David Hammons: Day’s End—a permanent public sculpture in Hudson River Park along the southern edge of Gansevoort Peninsula, directly across from the Museum. 

For Day’s End, Hammons takes inspiration from Gordon Matta-Clark’s 1975 art intervention of the same name. Originally conceived by Matta-Clark as a “sun and water temple,” Day’s End involved the artist cutting a series of large, dramatic openings into the exterior walls and floor of the nineteenth-century salt shed at Pier 52 on the west side of Manhattan, allowing both sunlight and water to be visible from within the abandoned structure. Matta-Clark’s efforts, unfortunately, were short-lived: city inspectors shut down the site the day it was to be presented to the public, and following years of urban decay throughout the area, both pier and shed were demolished in 1979. 

Hammons’s new work, a “ghost monument” to Matta-Clark and the vibrant history of New York City’s waterfront, will be a sculpture of remarkable simplicity that traces the outlines, dimensions, and location of the original shed in slender steel beams. Evanescent and ethereal, Day’s End will offer an extraordinary place for New Yorkers and visitors alike to experience the waterfront, where it will remain permanently, “open and inviting to all.” 

This video, directed by Hammons, captures the groundbreaking celebration, including remarks from Adam D. Weinberg, the Whitney’s Alice Pratt Brown Director; a “water tango” on the Hudson performed by the Fire Fighter II, the Fire Department of New York City’s Marine Company 9 fireboat; and the premiere of 6 to 5, 5 to 6, a new work by the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Henry Threadgill commissioned by the Whitney for the occasion.