Richard Hambleton

The forgotten shadow man

MUCA Hall 2 (UG)

30.10.2020 - 04.09.2022

Richard Hambleton - The Godfather of Street Art

Richard Hambleton (*23.06.1952 - †29.10.2017) ist reverently called "The Godfather of Street Art". He is regarded as a pioneer of street art and still inspires renowned artists such as Banksy, Blek le Rat and JR. The Museum of Urban and Contemporary Art (MUCA) is the first museum in Europe to dedicate an exhibition to the father of street art in honour of his pioneering artistic role.

To mark the third anniversary of the legendary artist's death, the MUCA opened the special exhibition "Richard Hambleton - the forgotten shadow man". The exhibition was on display until the end of summer 2022.


Richard Hambleton - his career

Hambleton is considered one of the first street artists on the American continent. As early as the 1970s, New York was his creative home. Here he frequented the legendary Club 57, among others with Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. The two introduced him to Andy Warhol, who asked him several times if he could paint a portrait of him. Hambleton always refused. He saw himself as a conceptual artist and wanted his art, not him, to be in the foreground. His penchant for the morbid became apparent early on in his work. In his artistic beginnings, he painted chalk outline drawings of murder victims on pavements, usually used for securing evidence at a crime scene. He shocked the public with this staging of murder scenes. His most famous works, however, were created in the 80s in backyards and dark alleys of New York. There he painted distorted shadows of human bodies in black paint to frighten the viewer. A name was quickly found for these interventions: The "Shadowman" was born. In the art scene, this moment is considered the beginning of his career. At that time, Hambleton's paintings were valued more highly than those of Basquiat.


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The rediscovery of the shadow men

But with fame came drugs. His heroin addiction in particular accompanied him throughout his life. He lost touch with reality and was increasingly forgotten. About ten years ago, his works were rediscovered and he was able to build on his old successes. Richard Hambleton died at the height of his renaissance at the age of 65. The MUCA exhibition is dedicated to his rediscovery and his famous motifs of the shadow men.