Photographs on the Brain

For outstanding examples of tamed art, you needn’t look further than the Hirshhorn’s basement. There, Barbara Kruger’s giant anticonsumerist slogans cover the floors and walls, “MONEY MAKES MONEY” on one escalator and “YOU WANT IT. YOU BUY IT. YOU FORGET IT.” on another. They’re blunt, leaving little to the imagination; it’s advertising against advertising, and good work at that. But the room’s punchline is off to one side: Here the giant slogans are miniaturized and made portable on T-shirts and tote bags. You can actually buy “I SHOP, THEREFORE I AM” on a postcard. No art show, even at a state-supported museum, is complete without the merch table.


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