Prowling the alleyways and subways of 1980s New York, the life-size, black-silhouetted figures of Richard Hambleton sparked fear and controversy amongst the city's inhabitants, making him one of the most collectible artists of his time. These menacing 'shadowmen' earned him the title of the 'godfather of street art' and twice saw him feature on the cover of LIFE magazine, but ultimately foreshadowed his tragic demise. Once outselling Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, Hambleton retreated into the darkness of drugs and poverty, and his tragic story was shelved in the archives of art history. Until now.
The Shadowman collection marks the renaissance of the conceptual artist, who went on to inspire Banksy, JR and Blek le Rat. Curated using original artworks from the Richard Hambleton Archive, the four limited edition graphics depict his menacing shadowed figures and are exclusive to Castle Fine Art. Each of the evocative large-scale artworks is printed as a silkscreen on torn-edged paper, echoing the fine art aesthetic of Hambleton's work, which now resides in the permanent collections of the Andy Warhol Museum, Museum of Modern Art and Zellermayer Galerie in Berlin.
The resurgence of interest in Hambleton's work is being felt in the art world, where his paintings still sell for up to $500,000. One art critic went so far as to state that he has the potential to reach the popularity of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning; while last year, the New Statesman wrote: 'In the COVID-19 era, Hambleton's dark, sinister imagery could not be more timely.' We are honoured to be a part of the movement to lead Hambleton's legacy from the shadows and bring his art from street to canvas.
Find out more about our exhibition below, or get in touch for more information on the Shadowman collection.
Born in Vancouver, Canada, in 1952, Hambleton studied at the Francisco Institute of Art before embarking on his notorious Image Mass Murder project, which saw splatters of blood-red paint outlined in chalk in the shape of a body in 15 cities across the United States and Canada.
Titled 'a sick jokester' by the San Francisco Examiner, Hambleton moved to New York and joined the underground art scene, creating his infamous shadowmen. Lauded by the likes of Andy Warhol and exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art and the Venice Biennale, Hambleton nevertheless succumbed to the darkness, leaving behind his tragic legacy.
"Richard Hambleton’s standing shadows revolutionised and commercialised street art in the early 1980s, paving the way for Basquiat, Haring and Banksy. I cannot emphasise the importance of the role he’s played in modern art history."
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