Whitney Museum Unveils Monumental Art Proposal by David Hammons

Inspired by a Gordon Matta-Clark artwork of the same name, the artist will create a ghostly pier in Hudson River Park.
David Hammons Whitney

Courtesy Guy Nordenson and Associates

Move over, Barry Diller: there’s a new pier in town.

Just weeks after the New York billionaire’s beleaguered Thomas Heatherwick–designed Pier 55 received its coup de grâce, the Whitney Museum of American Art has revealed a proposal for a monumental public artwork along the Hudson River waterfront—just a stone’s throw away from its 10th Avenue perch.

The proposal, presented at a community board meeting last night, is an ethereal structure created by artist David Hammons that traces the contours of a former industrial shed. If approved, the sculpture will sit directly across from the Whitney’s Renzo Piano–designed complex, on Pier 52.

David Hammons Whitney

Hammons was inspired by Gordon Matta-Clark’s 1975 Day’s End (Pier 52) (Exterior with Ice) Courtesy Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark, Artists Rights Society (ARS), N.Y.

Called Day’s End Hammons’s proposal draws on a prior 1975 intervention on the pier by Gordon Matta-Clark, for which the artist sawed five eye-shaped cuts into the shed’s facade. But rather than deconstructing the structure (which is long gone), Hammons’s work conjures up the original building like a ghost: the minimal, steel-framed pavilion extends into the river and, depending on conditions, merges visually with the water. Its silhouette also pays homage to the history of the site–once a bustling shipping dock, later a postindustrial haven for the gay community, and today a rapidly developing zone for luxury real estate.

David Hammons Whitney

Courtesy Guy Nordenson and Associates

Perhaps anticipating this criticism, the Whitney says the work will be a community asset and will help integrate the voices of long-time residents, activists, and artists through a variety of programming. Said museum director Adam D. Weinberg in the statement announcing the project, “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.”

Categories: Arts + Culture, Cities

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