Footage of Manhattan’s ghostly street artist Shadowman emerges in soon to be released doco

In the 80s, before names like Banksy and Basquiat had entered the street art lexicon, an ill-defined artist by the name of Richard Hambleton was haunting the streets of lower Manhattan with his giant, darkened figures.

The locals simply called him Shadowman.

shadowman richard hambleton tribeca film festival

Premiering at Tribeca Film Festival, Shadowman is a documentary about the incredible talent and struggles of pioneering street artist Richard Hambleton.

First came his chalk outlines (which also appeared in other cities), then came mysterious shadow paintings depicting a Shadowman lurking in the city’s darker corridors. Hambleton, whose star fell just as Basquiat and Haring’s reputations became immortalised and their artworks became investment properties, is now the subject of a documentary by filmmaker Oren Jacoby.


Premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival, Shadowman tracks the artist’s various rises, falls, and resurrections, and coincides with the exhibition I Only Have Eyes For You, which is now on at Woodward Gallery until May 5th.

As Shadowman details, the Vancouver-born artist, working on a grant from the city, took his “murder mystery” chalk outline paintings on an American West Coast tour of Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles. He then worked his way across the United States, arriving in New York City in 1978, right as the Lower East Side’s music and arts scenes were heating up.

Richard Hambleton. Photograph by Ben Buchanan.
Richard Hambleton. Photograph by Ben Buchanan.

His murder mysterious, staged in Tribeca and elsewhere, with its blood red paint splashed across white outlines, immediately unnerved everyone, including the NYPD. This brought Hambleton much media attention, and made him something of an art world star. – The Creators Project

Watch the trailer for Shadowman below.