Shadowman | Chicago Reader

Shadowman

In the grungy downtown art scene of early 1980s New York, street artist Richard Hambleton stood out, his soigné appearance and playful manner at odds with his murals of menacing, shadowy men. By mid-decade he'd turned to painting canvases inspired by cowboy icons, and the unsought financial success that followed fed his appetite for drugs. This documentary portrait of Hambleton, who died in 2017, is remarkable for its sweep and its refreshing lack of cant and sentimentality, as art insiders and Hambleton's benefactors weigh his prodigious talent against his lies and instability. Director Oren Jacoby (Constantine's Sword) observes like a fly on the wall as two dealers frantically hold the stubborn painter to his deadline for a 2009 Giorgio Armani show; the event provided a stunning comeback for Hambleton after nearly 20 years of obscurity, but he soon returned to penury, where he could work on his own terms.

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