As visitors step off the second-floor escalators of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, they’re greeted on the left by Haim Steinbach’s “on vend du vent,” in which the title is spelled out in billboard-sized vinyl letters. Roughly translating to “we sell air,” the piece has a clever double meaning: that anything at all, including the air around us, can be marketed and sold, and that everything sold is fleeting and ephemeral, no more than air. Though some of the works represented in Brand New: Art and Commodity in the 1980s feel a bit weightless, content to embrace rather than challenge this growing consumerism, a number of them manage to legitimately provoke and intrigue.

(WCP)