Hero in Art: The Vanished Traces of Richard Hambleton
Creator of three major multi-city street art series, Image Mass Murder, I Only Have Eyes for You and Shadow figures, Richard Hambleton is remembered as a visionary underground artist, a daring pioneer of urban interventionist art, a heroic idol of graffiti artists. Esteemed to be the godfather of street art, he was one of the principal players of the new wave of visual arts that erupted in New York’s East Village and its neighboring Lower East Side in the early 80s and gave rise to a new breed of defiant guerrilla fighters striving against conformist museum art. In this biographic novel, author Istvan Kantor aka Monty Cantsin, the founder of Neoism and an early friend of Richard Hambleton, tells the eventful, inspiring but also dark story of the world famous street artist and renegade junky. Through his own, sometime very personal experiences, added with recollections by others and fused into a dramatically flowing narrative, Kantor/Cantsin reports on the art and times of Richard Hambleton, his falls and rises, highs and lows, told with honesty, passion and audacity. “He was surprised how much he enjoyed just standing there and looking at the sky above the cityscape… With towering passion and nervous excitement he threw a last glance down to the bottom. It was a powerful moment that opened up his fantasy and changed his perceptions. He left reality and flew up into the holy skies of grandeur and hallucinations, into the place he always wanted to be. It was almost like a prophetic experience. Richard was determined to conquer New York City with his art. He gave himself 5 years to accomplish it.”
“Istvan Kantor s narrative takes on questions that have long occupied me, sometimes baffled me. The artist in venerable Bohemian myth was an individual always a man back then, natch who was willing to endure privations, physical risk, police interest and isolation in order to make work that would outlive him, that would live forever. That does nothing to explain the explosions of street art huge brilliant pieces in unfrequented back alleys and performative work. Sure, the Internet ensures that traces of everything may outlive our species, but the raw physicality of pigment is long gone. So why bother? Kantor casts a vivid light on a turbulently teeming segment of the art world in which the future is not what it used to be, and in which it is clear that a rockstar career is not such a terrible thing to have. However, the Richard Hambleton story has saved its killer punch for the end of the bout. He himself had long despised studio-made art, and just as much as he attacked the dealers, collectors, and promoters who serviced the system and who, yes, had systematically looted him he cheerfully vented about dumb artists, whose studios were little more than a blend of theater sets and ATMs.” Anthony Haden-Guest –Foreword to the book
Paperback: 264 pages, 4.5 x 7 inch trim
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