Dubbed ‘the godfather of street art’, New York artist Richard Hambleton is set to make his Dubai debut this Sunday, November 15 at La Cantine du Faubourg.

Considered a pioneer of ‘public art’, the American artist made his break in the 1980s, alongside fellow street artists Keith Haring and Jean-Michael Basquiat. His unusual take of graffiti-style art soon made him an inspiration to Andy Warhol and later Banksy.

There is no doubt he is a pretty impressive cultural figure, and now, for the first time ever, we can witness his masterpieces first hand as Richard Hambleton makes his Dubai debut (please note it will just be Richard’s works on display, the artists himself is too unwell to travel).

Richard Hambleton To Make Dubai Debut

Artist Richard Hambleton To Make Dubai Debut

If you’ve not heard of his, Hambleton is best known for his Mass Murder Concept and Shadowman paintings. He  would leave chalk outlines and red paint splashed on sidewalks to resemble murder scenes. His ‘shadowmen’ consisted of loosely painted, menacing silhouettes in locations intended to startle pedestrians – jittery from the day-to-day hustle of crime-riddled 1980s New York City.


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After a long hiatus, Hambleton (now 60) made a return, albeit reluctantly, to the limelight in 2011, after having disappeared for nearly 25 years. Now out of retirement the artist is showcasing some of his most statemaking paintings in Dubai.

In anticipation of his Dubai reveal, we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 things to know about Hambleton:

  1. After making his mark in Europe and Asia in the mid 1980s, Hambleton coined the name ‘The Shadowman’. A name he lives up to – choosing to remain a phantom in the art scene, not unlike his trademark silhouetted ‘shadowmen’.
  1. In the mid-1980s, Hambleton wound up homeless after an ex-girlfriend stole 40 of his paintings and sold them off cheaply.
  1. The two young curators who coaxed Hambleton back into the limelight were Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld, son of the editor of French Vogue, and Australian conglomerate heir Andy Valmorbida. After tracking him down, the duo had the door slammed twice in their faces by Hambleton, only opening up on the third visit to finally let them in.
  1. You’ve likely heard of graffiti artist Banksy, but it was thanks to Hambleton that Banksy first decided to pick up his stencils and get tagging. Hambleton – the original street artist – has been on the scene turning heads before Banksy could even walk. Papermag in October 2009 even wrote of Hambleton: “Memo to Banksy: You owe Richard Hambleton a small fortune in royalties. You too KAWS.” French graffiti artist Blek le Rat also spoke highly of Hambleton, when asked in an interview by the Wooster Collective which artists he admired the most.
  1. The curator and man partly responsible for Hambleton’s return, Andy Valmorbida, recently sold two rare Richard Hambleton pieces in 2010 for USD$960,000.