Monumental and authoritative, Christopher Wool's Untitled (W24), painted in 1990, reads like a brash imperative. The rawness in its order to the dog is reflected in the stenciled letters in which it is written. There is an open aggression in this insistent message. By mentally digesting these letters, we become the objects of the order to run and to eat, we become the dog, the object of the 'speaker's' condescension. The 'voice' of Wool's message sounds almost psychotic in its written insistence that we run. And, yet, we somehow know that these words are not directed at us just as we know that they are not canine commandments. They are cultural cliché everyday evidence of the textual noise of our lives.
There is a post-Pop intensity to the stenciled letters in Wool's Word paintings. With the same renegade authority as the graffiti message that inspired them originally--SEX LUV painted on the side of a white truck--this incitement has street 'cred.' This art is not descended from advertising like Pop; it is, rather, the product of the disjointed writings of the urban landscape--the warnings, boasts, insults and territorial markers of graffiti. At the same time, the no-frills stenciling of the letters recalls Minimalism, especially the word works of Joseph Kosuth. But whereas Kosuth's works were deliberately self-contained, hermetically sealed by the words that they formed, Wool's Untitled (W24) is a rogue, disjointed phrase that points to the ambiguity of language.
Throw this dog a bone.