Richard Hambleton (1952-2017) is widely considered the “Godfather of Street Art.” His contemporaries included Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and Andy Warhol.
He was initially recognized for his Mass Murder Series where he created bloody “crime scenes” with splattered red paint outlining the forms of “homicide victims." His early series, I Only Have Eyes For You, of stenciled self-portraits pasted throughout the city, also brought him recognition. The printed images were fragile and impermanent, eventually fading into “white shadows." He went on to cover the streets with his legendary Shadowmen - quickly executed black painted silhouette figures which lurked in unexpected corners and alleys. These images became synonymous with 1980s New York. Later he translated these figures to canvas and paper and developed his popular Horse and Rider - Rodeo themed artworks.
Born in Vancouver, Canada, Hambleton moved to New York City in the late 1970s. He considered his work to be public art where the city itself served as both canvas and subject matter. In 1984 and 1988 he was included in the Venice Biennale. In 2009, a major exhibition, Richard Hambleton - New York, opened in collaboration with Armani in London. The exhibition traveled to multiple venues including the Moscow Museum of Modern Art. His work was featured in the exhibition, Club 57: Film, Performance, and Art in the East Village, 1978–1983, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Shadowman, a feature length documentary about his life and work premiered in 2016 at the Tribeca Film Festival.
In 2017 ACA Galleries organized the memorial exhibition, Eternity, to celebrate his life and art.