Photographs by Vera Isler and Thomas Christ
New York/Basel 1980–84
Commonly known as “The Godfather of Street Art,” Canadian artist Richard Hambleton (1952-2017) gained fame with his rapidly painted shadow figures. In a few seconds, life-size and in sweeping brushstrokes, they appeared overnight on buildings in New York City. Also known as the Shadowman, Hambleton left behind over 400 of those figures in Manhattan alone! In 1984, he traveled to Europe five times passing through 24 major cities, including Basel. Again, a bewildered public encountered his signature figures all over metropolitan walls.
The reason for his Europe trips was an invitation to participate in the 1984 Venice Biennale. Richard Hambleton was predicted a great artistic career. Andy Warhol admired his work, Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat were his peers. But his fame was accompanied by a drug addition; homelessness, desperation and creative outbursts came in waves. After a short surge of fame in the 2010s, Hambleton died as a broken man of cancer in 2017.
Artstübli – Urbane Kunst & Kultur, the Estate of Vera Isler (Verein Blaue Blume, Art Nachlassstiftung, Bern) and Balzer Projects are pleased to present the (documentary) exhibition of Shadowman in Basel. On view are photographs by Vera Isler (1931-2015) and Thomas Christ (b. 1953) taken in Basel and New York City in the early 1980s. Isler’s and Christ’s photographs show not only the shadow figures, but also capture the very special and significantly different atmospheres of New York City and Basel in the 1980s. An original painting by Richard Hambleton will also be on view.
Artstübli is one of the first institutions in Europe to dedicate an exhibition to this cult figure and pioneer of urban art. The exhibition is accompanied by a publication.
DURATION: April 9 to June 25, 2022
BOOK VERNISSAGE: Wednesday, April 27, 6pm – 8pm
ARTIST TALK: Thomas Christ in conversation with Isabel Balzer: Friday, June 10, 6pm
FILM SCREENINGS: “Shadowman” by Oren Jacoby (2017): Friday, May 13 and Friday, June 24, 7pm
FINISSAGE: Saturday, June 25, 2pm – 6pm
LOCATION: Artstübli – Urban Art & Culture, Steinentorberg 28, Basel, Switzerland
OPENING HOURS: Thursday/Friday: 11am – 6pm; Saturday: 2pm – 6pm
WITH THE SUPPORT OF: Mary & Ewald E. Bertschmann-Stiftung, Sulger-Stiftung, Atelier Studer, Fotofachlabor Pascale Brügger, Steck Tapeten AG
LINKS: www.artstuebli.ch, www.veraisler.com, www.balzerprojects.com, www.art-nachlassstiftung.ch