Los Angeles

“Oranges and Sardines”

Hammer Museum

THIS PAST NOVEMBER, to kick off a panel discussion about the exhibition “Oranges and Sardines,” curator Gary Garrels asked Amy Sillman—one of the six artists participating in the show—to “describe the situation of abstract painting today.” Sillman adjusted the microphone, took a deep breath, then came up speechless. Finally, she said, “The mind goes blank,” just as Garrels interjected, “Maybe that’s the wrong question.” But his question wasn’t wrong per se—it just didn’t have much to do with the achievement of his exhibition, which takes a more interesting, less expected tack: Garrels asked six abstract painters working in the United States to “select one or two of their own recent paintings to be shown with works by other artists who have had a significant impact on their thinking and the development of their own work.” This relatively humble premise, combined with the show’s smallish

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