Case of The Shadow Man

During one of my treasure hunting moments- in which I usually steer towards crazed minds, I came across some unusual (and underrated) case studies. Which gets us to the topic of the day- Graffiti. I have always been curious as to why some individuals need to create that intimate space in a public environment, why can't they stick to the usual HB/paper ritual or the more popular Mac version of it?

Exhibit A: Richard Hambleton

Richard Hambleton (Vancouver, 1954) implemented between 1974 and late eighties several key iconic series of post in the history of the public art phenomenon. Between 1981 and 1986 in New York ran its most characteristic series, "Night Life": four hundred and fifty life-size human shadows.







These "shadow paintings" were splashed and brushed with black paint on hundreds of buildings and other structures across New York City. Locations were believed to be calculated for maximum impact upon unsuspecting pedestrians.Very often, a "Shadowman" could be found in a dark alley or lurking just around a street corner. Hambleton later expanded the scope of his project and painted these "shadowmen" in other cities, including Paris, London and Rome, and even on the Berlin Wall.

Hambleton is the first artist postgraffiti-and the only of his generation, who spread their campaigns to national and international level following the methodology that characterizes the current scene. In simple words, his work made him famous.


Graphic design is steadily moving from print to print+interactive. We're the Web 2.0  generation of the user-generated content. So how do we categorize graffiti today? Does it need any categorization? Public art, open-ended, activism, 'fine art', can't-afford-a-canvas-so-use-wall art,  an intervention, installation, or just angst?  Wikipedia manages, but I personally refuse to define Graffiti. On the other hand, I do wonder about (and wish for) the motive behind such a form of expression. Shepard Fairey disappoints and Banksy gets lost in the hype, but there are many more who I am yet to discover. In Hambleton's case I'm sure the police could benefit with some policemen silhouettes on the city walls.

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