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David Hammons Day’s End
Photograph: Timothy Schenck / © David Hammons

One of this year's largest U.S. public art installations is now at Hudson River Park

The Whitney's new commission reaches 52 feet in the air.

By
Shaye Weaver
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The ghostly figure of a shed now rises out of the Hudson River near Pier 52 and it's one of the largest public art projects completed in the U.S. this year, according to the Whitney Museum of American Art.

The sculpture, named Day's End by its creator David Hammond, is made of slender steel pipes that reach 52 feet at its peak and together measure 325 feet long and 65 feet wide.

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It pays tribute to an artist, Gordon Matta-Clark, who transformed an abandoned shed that once sat on Pier 52 as well as to the history of the city's waterfront. In 1975, he carved massive openings into the shed, which he described as a "temple to sun and water," according to the Whitney, which proposed the public art installation.

day's end whitney museum pier 52
Photograph: Timothy Schenck / © David Hammons

Hammond's new installation brings the original shed, and Matta-Clark's act, back to life by using the original outlines and dimensions of the piece. 

The Whitney also says that because it changes with the light of the day and atmospheric conditions—becoming evanescent and ethereal—it harkens to the waterfront's history as a shipping hub in the late 1800s and even as the pier's role as a gathering place for the gay community in the 1970s.

"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," said Adam D. Weinberg, the Alice Pratt Brown Director of the Whitney. "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 installation is finally complete after seven years of work by the Hudson River Park Trust, the Whitney, the artist and Guy Nordenson and Associates, which led the design and engineering.

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. 

pier 52 day's end whitney museum
Photograph: David Hammons

Hammons, who moved to NYC in 1974, regularly incorporated performance, found materials, ephemerality, and public city life, particularly Black city life, into his projects. He's known for more elusive art like his "Bliz-aard Ball Sale" in 1983, where he sold snowballs on a street in the East Village, as well as his "How Ya Like Me Now?" from 1988, which was a public billboard featuring a blue-eyed, blond-haired Jesse Jackson, and "Untitled" in 1992, which is a sculpture in the Whitney’s collection that is made out of the sweepings of barbershops in Harlem.

To celebrate the completion of Day's Endthe Whitney is offering free admission on May 16 from 11:30am to 6pm. Throughout the day, its outdoor spaces will host family programming like drawing and printing workshops. Make sure to grab free tickets ahead of time (starting May 5) at whitney.org so you don't miss out.

You can see Day's End at Hudson River Park, across from the Whitney Museum, and on the southern edge of the new Gansevoort Peninsula, where it will be on view permanently.

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