This work will be included in the forthcoming Vol. Three of the Edward Ruscha catalogue raisonné.
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Ed Ruscha's brilliance lies in his sharp observance of life voiced through his witty and charged word paintings that speak to us with a Western accent about what is beautiful, funny, optimistic, ironic and true. He captures his personal experiences in cool words or phrases appropriated from his daily life, sometimes pedestrian, sometimes exotic, and lays out a message for the world that is absorbed acoustically, visually and conceptually.
Wild Cats of the World, belongs to a series of paintings with words over sunsets, nighttime skies and fields referred to by Richard Marshall as "Thoughts and Phrases" series begun in 1980. A wide-open Western sky displays the words Wild Cats of the World in a bold typeface. Typically, the meaning of the phrase is unclear, but it is a wonderful alliterative boast that we want to repeat out loud as soon as we see the painting. Wild felines, or hip people? This possibility of accidental meanings and chance effects is what the artist is seeking. Like other works in the series including Lost Empires Living Tribes, 1984 and Japan is America, 1985 there is a heroic quality to the text that seems to be addressing world issues. However Wild Cats is interpreted, it is a classic Ruscha quip with distinctly American energy, flavor and humor.
"It is an ambivalent sort of poetry that Ruscha practices, always straddling the line between sensitivity and ennui but keeping particularly attuned to the interstices between his words' literal meanings, and those which arise from their being transposed over his often contradictory image-fields..." Dan Cameron, Love in Ruins, 1990, p.14.