A 69-foot sculpture by internationally renowned artist Hiroshi Sugimoto was recently installed at Yerba Buena Island in what local arts officials hope will eventually help transform the island into “a world class destination.”

The sculpture marks the first artwork from the Treasure Island Arts Program, which dictates that public art equal to at least 1 percent of the construction cost of housing and commercial buildings on the island be installed, in line with San Francisco’s art for public development requirement.

Up to 8,000 residential units — including approximately 2,200 permanently affordable homes — and 550,000 square feet of commercial space are slated to be developed on the island. This leaves as much as $50,000,000 for public art, according to the Treasure Island Master Plan, which guides the implementation of the Treasure Island Arts Program.

The arts program is in many ways an ode to Treasure and Yerba Buena Island history, which is a “study of contrasts: between the natural and the human-made; military and civilian; and the past, present and future,” the master plan reads.

An homage to the past

In 1939, Treasure Island hosted the Golden Gate International Exposition, a world’s fair that brought visitors from around the globe to reflect on innovation and revel in the recent completion of both the Golden Gate and Bay bridges. Artists of the era were commissioned to create artwork for the fair, signaling that the island and the Bay Area at large would be a hub of creative expression.

Sugimoto’s sculpture, titled “Point of Infinity: Surface of Revolution with Constant Negative Curvature,” evokes the “Tower of the Sun” sculpture of the 1939 fair and sits atop a hill with views of the San Francisco skyline. It can be spotted from the Bay Bridge.

Hiroshi Sugimoto’s public art installation on Yerba Buena Island is reminiscent of the “Tower of the Sun,” shown here on a postcard, that was part of the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition, which took place on Treasure Island. (Jonathan Haeber/Flickr, CC BY-NC)

Its hyperbolic shape, Sugimoto said in a San Francisco Arts Commission news release, is “symbolic of humankind’s pursuit of knowledge and innovation.” This human quest, Sugimoto added, is reflected in hyperbolic curves, which travel towards infinity together, getting closer but never converging.

Sugimoto’s artwork has been celebrated and exhibited worldwide, in Tokyo, Paris, New York’s Guggenheim and Metropolitan museums and San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art. The artist was selected from a public competition in 2017 that received 495 submissions.

Ralph Remington, San Francisco Arts Commission director of cultural affairs, said the sculpture is a first step toward the transformation of Treasure and Yerba Buena islands as construction and development continues over the next two decades.

“Point of Infinity is the first of many public art installations that will help transform Yerba Buena Island and Treasure Island into a world class destination for the arts,” Remington said.

Lydia Sidhom is a rising third-year at UC Berkeley studying Data Science and Political Science. She is a Dow Jones News Fund intern for Bay City News. Lydia was a lead beat reporter, deputy news editor and projects developer for The Daily Californian and will be a deputy projects editor there this fall. She enjoys telling stories through data. In her free time, Lydia loves to read, bake and travel.