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View of “Richard Hawkins: Third Mind,” 2011, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. From left: RRSPS, 1993; Crepuscule #3, 1994; SPP, 1993; Crepuscule #1, 1994. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen.

Richard Hawkins

View of “Richard Hawkins: Third Mind,” 2011, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. From left: RRSPS, 1993; Crepuscule #3, 1994; SPP, 1993; Crepuscule #1, 1994. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen.

OVER THE PAST TWO DECADES, Richard Hawkins has emerged as a standard-bearer for a still-living tradition of renegade Los Angeles art. His work remains at best haphazardly known, making it an ideal candidate for the kind of elucidation and contextualization midcareer retrospectives provide. So Lisa Dorin (of the Art Institute of Chicago, where this exhibition originated) is to be commended for organizing Hawkins’s first US survey—a challenging undertaking, given the extremely idiosyncratic nature of his art. But the show, unfortunately, was a missed opportunity, one that failed to provide a convincing armature for Hawkins’s work. At the Hammer, three large rooms contained a selection of some sixty works made between 1988 and 2010, installed so as to intermingle time periods and media. The exhibition was organized around the artist’s use of collage, and its search for a formal

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