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DeYoung’s Exhibitions on Abstraction and the Original Bay Bridge

This Saturday, San Francisco’s DeYoung Museum will be opening two new exhibitions. One celebrating the art of abstraction, while the other focusing on the history of the Bay Bridge.

First up is the exhibition Shaping Abstraction, and the works draws from the Bay Area collections of Maurice and Harriet Gregg, John Weeden, and David Davies. The selection of works spans into the abstraction movements of the early to mid-20th century, as many of the artists were part of the New York-based American Abstract Artists group (AAA), who had a hand in advancing abstraction’s course in the United States.

Founded in 1936, the AAA group combated the hostile attitudes toward abstract art that existed through the first half of the 20th century, thus making the art genre more acceptable to American audiences. The featured works, including Burgoyne Diller’s Second Theme #272 (which can be previewed on DeYoung Museum at deyoung.famsf.org), were previously given to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco by collectors Greggs, Weeden, and Davies.

The next exhibition opening on Saturday goes inside the building of the famous bridge that connects between Oakland and San Francisco. The Bay Bridge: A Work in Progress, 1933-1936 features works, all of which were created during the time the Bay Bridge was first being built. The exhibition includes a newly acquired group of photographs from Peter Stackpole, which documents the bridge’s original construction, and tells the tale of how the photographer scaled the dizzying heights, and communicated with construction workers.

The exhibition also includes prints and drawings of the Bay bridge from Stackpole’s contemporaries, all of who were making their livings under the auspices of San Francisco’s Federal Art Project. They include Dong Kingman, John Stall, Otis Oldfield, Arthur G. Murphy, and George Booth Post. Also included is a small selection of original studies from San Francisco architect Timothy Pflunger, designer of the original Bay Bridge.

The Bay Bridge: A Work in Progress runs until June 8th, while Shaping Abstraction runs until January 4th of next year.