Richard Hambleton

Richard Hambleton

Born 1952, Canada. Died 2017.
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Richard Hambleton Biography

Revered as the Godfather of Street Art, Richard Hambleton (1952 – 2017) is remembered as a founder of the movement. Born in Canada, Hambleton first gained notoriety with their two-year series Mass Murder (1976-1978) in which they outlined volunteers in crime scene chalk and doused them with blood-red paint. This project introduced their public and participatory art style to the world, characteristics that have since become synonymous with the street art genre.

Moving to New York’s Lower East Side in 1979, Hambleton became a contemporary of Keith Haring & Jean-Michel Basquiat. But it was his explosive and ominous Shadowman paintings that solidified Hambleton into street art’s canon. These massive silhouettes appeared on urban landscapes internationally, including cameos on stop signs, alleyways, and even the Berlin Wall. Just three years after moving to New York City, they held their first solo exhibition and were quickly represented in the Venice Biennale in 1984 and 1988.

Although Hambleton stepped out of the limelight in the 90s due to their ongoing battle with cancer, his legacy still proceeds him. The artist transitioned to more works on canvas later in his career, many of which are displayed in museums including The Brooklyn Museum, The Museum of Modern Art, and The Andy Warhol Museum. A retrospective documentary titled Shadowman premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival shortly before the late artist’s passing. Hambleton’s pioneering of the street art movement is ultimately much like their Shadowman; a boundless and permanent figure splashed across the history of street art.

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