David Hammons installation at Gansevoort Peninsula is underway

The David Hammons installation by the Whitney at the Gansevoort Peninsula in Hudson River Park added its first upright on Tuesday and will be finished by mid May. While this is beyond Tribeca’s borders, the installation is probably the most exciting (at least it is for me) public art installation to come to the Westside in many a year.

The piece, titled Day’s End, was proposed by Hammons — who for decades has created sculptures that reflect urban African American life — and was inspired by Gordon Matta-Clark’s 1975 artwork of the same name that took place at the same spot. Matta-Clark cut views/shapes/perspectives out of abandoned structures, and in this case cut five openings in the now long-gone Pier 52. (See a video of that father below.) And this piece will celebrate so many things that I love about living in this neighborhood: the waterfront and its piers, their maritime history, the artists that found shelter and inspiration here, the constant push-pull in the drive for change and for things to stay the same. And you see in this piece my favorite thing about New Yorkers: the ability to claim something that’s been left for dead and make it spectacular.

The image below, taken from the Whitney’s fifth floor, shows the uprights laying flat on the pier. And in the video above, curators, funders and artists discuss both Matta-Clark’s and Hammons’ impact on the Westside, the city and to the art world. “David unearths narratives that are difficult for we Americans to accept,” says Darren Walker, the president of the Ford Foundation. “David reminds of our aspirations, but that we have a long way to go to achieve those aspirations.”

From the Whitney: “Hammons’s work will appear evanescent and ethereal, seeming to shimmer and almost disappear, changing with the light of day and atmospheric conditions. It will also allude to the history of New York’s waterfront — from the heyday of its shipping industry to the reclaimed piers that became a gathering place for the gay community.”