Moscow City Government
Moscow City Department of Culture
Russian Academy of Arts
Moscow Museum of Modern Art
Date: September 9 — 26, 2010
Venue: State Museum of Modern Art of the Russian Academy of Arts, 10 Gogolevsky Boulevard
Curators: Andy Valmorbida & Vladimir Restoin-Roitfeld
Moscow Museum of Modern Art, in conjunction with curators Andy Valmorbida and Vladimir Restoin-Roitfeld, present the exhibition of Richard Hambleton, legend of New York street art of the 80’s.
Richard Hambleton, American pop-expressionist, an intellectual and experimentalist, the godfather of contemporary street art, shocked New York in the 80’s with his provocative actions. Having influenced the minds of several generations, Hambleton, together with his associates Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, has left his mark in the history of American contemporary art.
The display presents 35 works by the artist; among them, 15 have never been exhibited before. ‘He ranks among the most influential street artists in the world, his story being truly unique. Hambleton’s art is ingenious,’ the curators claim.
Graduate of San Francisco Art Institute, Hambleton has always preferred public spaces to studios, and started his career in the city streets. In 1976, his first famous series of works appeared, entitled Crime Scenes. During three years, different cities became sites for artistic imitations of murders — images on the pavements mimicked chalk body outlines and splattered blood of what appeared to be ‘victims’. The press was indignant, while the first reaction of happenstance witnesses was shock. This was exactly what the artist strove to achieve — the emotional impact on the spectator, no matter what it was, rapture or rejection.
In his famous Shadowman series, Hambleton exploited some fears typical for urban surroundings, such as fear of strangers or dark streets. His shadowy figures painted on the facades of the buildings lurked for viewers in unexpected corners, or alleys, or parking lots. Expressive dark silhouettes appeared in the streets of New York, London, Rome, and even on the surface of the Berlin Wall. The artist was more than once accused of social vandalism, though he was never caught red-handed at the scene of his creation. In his defense, Hambleton merely explained that the appearing images were just a form of self-expression in the circumstances of a metropolis. In his own words, he had no intention to express anything specific in his figures, which received their meaning in the spectator’s response and imagination. Dialogue with the viewer, emotions of passers-by — these are the essential keys to understanding Hambleton’s art.
Unlike Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, who passed away dramatically in the heyday of their glory, Richard Hambleton survived in the tempting swirl of New York bohemian life of the 80’s. For twenty years, the artist has been living a rather secluded life in his studio in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. His works have long migrated from the streets to galleries, exhibitions, and private collections. Since the turbulent 80’s, Hambleton has created a variety of new works and characters, from soldiers to Marlboro men. One of his recent pieces is Beautiful Paintings series executed on metal sheets, where color and light combinations create a surprising visual effect.
Richard Hambleton’s works can be found in major museums and private collections, including MoMA New York, Brooklyn Museum, Andy Warhol Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, and many others. His solo exhibitions have huge success all over the world. The project that is being brought to Moscow visited Europe and the USA before; it was organized by curators Andy Valmorbida and Vladimir Restoin-Roitfeld together with designer Giorgio Armani, a great fan of Hambleton’s art. The recent display at the Armani Theatre excited general admiration — today, being already a classic, Hambleton continues to amaze the viewers and keep them in suspense.
The exhibition opening is supported by TSUM Art Foundation and VISTAJET.