Richard Hambleton is a contemporary American-Canadian graffiti artist, sometimes called the “godfather of street art.” Along with his contemporaries Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, Hambleton painted directly on the streets of New York and achieved success during the art boom of the 1980s. Born in June of 1954 in Vancouver, Canada, Hambletons first major fame in the art world came from his Image Mass Murder series, wherein he painted chalk outlines around volunteer “victims” splashed red paint, thereby leaving fictional and violent crime scenes behind in over 15 cities. As time passed, he gradually transitioned to work in the studio, producing a 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,” he remarked of the shift in his practice. A reclusive artist, Hambleton now lives and works in New York City’s Lower East Side.
Richard Hambleton is most famous for his "Shadowman" paintings of the early 1980s. Each painting resembles a life-sized silhouetted image of some mysterious person, a "splashy shadow figure." These "shadow paintings" were splashed and brushed with black paint on hundreds of buildings and other structures across New York City. Locations were believed to be calculated for maximum impact upon unsuspecting pedestrians. Very often, a Shadowman could be found in a dark alley or lurking just around a street corner. Hambleton later expanded the scope of his project and painted these shadowmen in other cities, including Paris, London and Rome, and Berlin.