Richard Hambleton was a Canadian born artist known as The Godfather of Street Art.
Hambleton’s early work includes a public art series called Mass Murder (1976 – 1978) in which he painted “chalk” outlines around the bodies of volunteer “homicide victims” in public places. Finished with a splash of red paint, these works gave the viewer the impression of a realistic crime scene. After creating roughly 15 of these works around New York, he continued using the city as his canvas for his second street art collection and most notable work – the Shadowman (1980).
Predating Banksy by more than a decade, the late Richard Hambleton sparked the street art movement in 1980’s New York, alongside renowned contemporary artists such as Jean-Michele Basquiat and Keith Haring. His strategically placed paintings of hundreds of looming, shadow figures could be seen all over Manhattan’s public walls.
Hambleton’s work was shown at international exhibits and his art continues to be widely celebrated. In April 2017, a documentary following Hambleton’s rise to success and devotion to painting premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. The artist died of cancer at age 65 just six months later.