Richard Hambleton was Born in the summer of 1952 in Vancouver, Canada. With his reclusive character, he moved to the Lower East Side in his late twenties, just in time for New York’s street art boom of the 1980s, to which he gave a significant contribution alongside Keith Haring and Jean-Micheal Basquiat.
Hambleton’s first major recognition in the art world came from his Image Mass Murder series, wherein he painted a chalk outline of the volunteer (the “victims ”, his friends most of the times) around splashed red paint, thereby leaving behind a very fictional and violent, yet realistic crime scene - in over 15 cities. As time passed, he gradually transitioned to work in the studio, producing a new body of work he titled the Beautiful Paintings.
“I’ve been doing public art for a long time, and studio work, and there’s a relationship between the two of them”.
During the beginning of 1980 however, it was Richard’s shadows, or “Shadowman” as the media started referring to, that grabbed people’s attention. Shadows that resembled life-size silhouettes of a “splashy shadow figure” obtained with black paint, and that would soon cover as many buildings of New York as possible, and other capital cities later on. Hambleton’s art captured the lurk-like effects of his surroundings, which is why locations were believed to be calculated for maximum impact upon unsuspecting pedestrians.
Hambleton was the first artist to use the city walls as his canvas, and the first to attract the commercial attention of the street art movement. Yet he easily turned his back to the market, and rather continued to nurture his artistic growth. At the time, this behavior pushed him to isolate himself even more from the scene, and resulted in him not exhibiting for a long period of time.
Richard Hambleton passed away in October 2017.
He remains one of the biggest influences, the impeccable Shadowman that shaped an everlasting culture.