IF YOU PLAN to be in New York some time before the weekend is out, you might want to stop by the New Museum of Contemporary Art and see the Woodrow hanging there. The one we're referring to is Mr. Stephen Taylor Woodrow himself, a British artist who has incorporated his person into one of his pictures and hangs from the wall -- framed and silent as the Mona Lisa -- six hours a day.

He is part of a work called "Living Paintings," consisting of Mr. Woodrow and two fellow artists who cover themselves with spray paint and are fastened by means of concealed harnesses to ornately painted canvasses. During their six-hour hitch, they remain silent, although not necessarily still; a reporter for The New York Times observed Mr. Woodrow spitting and throwing things the other day, while one of his colleagues shook hands with visitors and the other took a wad of gum from his mouth and stuck it to the side of his canvas. All this is meant, The Times says, "to explore the relationship between art and its audience."

Mr. Woodrow, who will be taken down Sunday, says the genre has been widely hailed and imitated in Britain. It probably won't be long before it catches on in this country as well, if only for the most practical of reasons. Consider that just this week a batch of paintings and drawings -- mostly by old masters and having a combined value of some $6 million -- was stolen from a commercial gallery on New York's Upper East Side. In the face of such hazards, Mr. Woodrow, though he stands no chance of ever becoming an old master, does have one characteristic that recommends him highly to serious collectors: he is the only work of art capable of hollering up a storm when the art thieves come.