Richard Hambleton, Banksy’s Precursor

New York street artist Richard Hambleton is considered the godfather of a new genre of public street art and, since his death last year, his work is considered ‘highly investable’.

Richard Hambleton is widely regarded as being a key inspiration to England-based graffiti artist Banksy. As one critic described: “Richard Hambleton was Banksy before there was a Banksy.”

Born in Vancouver, Canada, Hambleton was the founder of the booming New York Street Art Movement scene of the 1970s and 1980s. Widely acclaimed alongside Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, it was Hambleton who was the original godfather of this new genre of public art.

He first gained public notoriety in the late 1970s when he started painting a police ‘chalk’ outline around bodies of pretend murder victims. He would then splash red paint on the outline, leaving behind a realistic-looking crime scene. These crime scenes were constructed on the streets of 15 major cities across the US and Canada.

Hambleton, who was classically trained, would often paint one of his now iconic ‘Shadowman’ images on a nearby wall, for which he gained more critical acclaim. Eventually these Shadowman paintings appeared on hundreds of New York buildings and in cities such as London, Rome and Paris. He even painted 17 of the life-size figures on the East side of the Berlin Wall in 1984, returning a year later to paint more on the West side.

An exhibition of his work is being showcased in an exclusive by-appointment London art exhibition this week at Woodbury House in Soho, London. The contemporary art gallery specialises in sourcing unique and highly investable pieces. A canvas painting of one Hambleton’s finest Shadowman paintings is on display at the exhibition. Called Standing Shadow, it is available to buy for £100,000.