By Roisin Breen

‘Mr Wonderful’ is a new exhibition of works by ‘Godfather of Street Art’ – Richard Hambleton, featuring title piece ‘Mr Wonderful, 1984’ – which is widely recognized to be his unsung masterpiece – alongside twenty-one other original pieces from the artist’s nineteen eighties prime.

Richard Hambleton, commonly known as ‘Shadowman’ was a critically acclaimed artist that pioneered the street art movement alongside Jean-Michel Basquiat & Keith Haring in New York. Starting on the streets, and then transitioning to canvas his creativity and artistic pedigree is unrivaled and he inspired and paved the way for many global superstar artists such as Banksy and Blek le Rat. The 1980’ss were ground-breaking for the street art genre as it became internationally recognised and accepted by the art world. 

Hambleton often forayed into the world of fashion, notably collaborating with leading brands such as Supreme, Vivienne Westwood and Giorgio Armani. Museums such as the MoMA in NYC have exhibited his work, and Rizzoli recently published a monolith covering the artist’s extensive contribution to the art world. An award-winning documentary ‘Shadowman’ on Richard’s life is rumored to be made into a Hollywood Film. Richard Hambleton sadly passed away in 2017, at the age of 65, but his stature continues to grow internationally.

Woodbury House is a private gallery located in Mayfair, London that specializes in street art, in particular the works of Richard Hambleton and Blek le Rat. Their dedication to spreading awareness and exposure for the artists they represent is driven by the goal of ensuring their artists’ names are rightfully cemented in art history. ‘Mr Wonderful, 1984’ has only been exhibited twice and has remained in the same notable collection since being acquired in 1984 by gallerist and Richard’s friend Ronald Sosinski. A prominent figure in the New York downtown art scene from his East Village gallery E.M Donahue and later Donahue / Kosinski Art in Soho and founder of The Scope Art Fair Sosinski was a dear friend and mentor to the artist throughout his lifetime. Sosinski and exhibition curator Joseph Bannan sat down with Crash to talk about the exhibition and Hambleton’s life and legacy.

‘Mr Wonderful’ the exhibition is open to the public today until 28th February.

To make an appointment please contact or telephone at 0203 750 2222.


Can you talk to us about your relationship with Richard?  Where did you first meet? How do you approach a relationship that spans between both friend and mentor?

Richard and I met through a mutual older and established artist ED Baynard in the late 70’s. Our friendship was one of artist to artist, both conceptually oriented with Richard making street installations “Mass Murder Series” and I doing color photography (FUJI 400) “Star Shots” from television. ED Baynard was responsible for officially introducing us to the NY art world specifically at his gallery Milliken which offered a show to Richard.

Can you talk to us about the East Village art scene in New York in the 80s? You must have met some characters!

The art scene in the East Village 80’s was much smaller and concentrated than today. One of my favorite artists that I met and worked with was Michael Roman. He did the hat box  and van for Madonna’s movie “Desperately Seeking Susan”. He was a master stencil maker and went on to be the designer for Santana in San Francisco. Also, Edward Brezinski a classical painter, who is now featured in the documentary “Make Me Famous” which also features some of the best artists of the 80’s: Ground Zero’s founders Marguerite Van Cook and James Romberger and Nada Gallery’s  Jim C, a brilliant videographer with some of the best footage from the EV 80’s.

How does that change from today’s art scene in your opinion?

Since NYC in the 70’s and early 80’s  was bankrupt and in a state of decay, it became the perfect situation for total freedom of expression with no concern for financial return,  it did not exist. The present moment is no longer the “art world” but the “art market”. Richard’s work is ready to take the “art market” by storm. Specifically, the early 80’s work which is highly significant historically in terms of creativity and artistic excellence. This can be found  and is demonstrated in the Woodbury House exhibition “Mr. Wonderful”.


Can you explain how this exhibition came together?

We worked extremely hard and creatively to ensure this exhibition was presented in the best possible format and utilized all the resources and experience we hold within the Richard Hambleton space. We shortlisted works we felt of the right level of importance and quality that could be presented in the show and commenced to track down and conversate to ensure we could bring this amazing exhibit to life. The curation and conversation around this exhibition has been happening for some time and the missing piece to the puzzle was when we were introduced to Ronald Sosinski, who informed and made us aware of the unsung masterpiece, ‘Mr Wonderful, 1984’ which very few knew of its existence. 

Could you put Richard into the context of street art / overall art world?

Street art is the most ground-breaking movement of any art genre in my opinion. Richard Hambleton was critical in pioneering and making this happen with the early works he produced on the street. Richard Hambleton is more than a street artist – he just chose to use the streets as his canvas in that early time period. His artistic pedigree and natural ability as a painter is unrivaled. The diversity in his different bodies of works is simply remarkable, highlighting his artistic merit. The works he created on paper and canvas post transitioning from the streets are simply remarkable and he deserves to be cemented in not only street art history, but art history. 

What are the themes and are over arching stories of the exhibition? 

The overarching stories and themes for ‘Mr Wonderful’ is that all of the works on display were created in the 1980’s. The 1980’s period for Richard Hambleton works are by far the best possible works he ever created, and the importance of this time period for the genre in particular is enormous. The bodies of works complement each other perfectly and all play a huge part in telling the story of Richard, his work, and the time period which holds such importance to the acceptance of street art as a genre.

What are your personal Highlights within the exhibition? 

‘Mr Wonderful, 1984’ is a true masterpiece by Richard Hambleton. It showcases all of his artistic abilities in one painting. This artwork was created by Richard with the help of Ronald’s opinion with the objective of creating all of the elements they would classify as the perfect Richard Hambleton painting, and I truly believe this was achieved.‘Nightlife, 1985’ is a remarkable series of works by Richard in which he created fifty-three original ‘Shadowmen’ on Japanese Kinwashi Paper, of which all are original. The creativity behind the series which consists of the Japanese paper being folded into a black booklet, which then can be placed into a wooden cased box is amazing. For this to be undertaken by Richard in 1985 really highlights his artistic genius abilities. ‘American Rodeo, 1984’ is an extremely important work. The work has remarkable movement and vibrancy with complimentary color arrangements which really bring this masterpiece to life. The work featured in the ‘Giorgio Armani’ show and is within the ‘Rizzoli’ X Richard Hambleton publication.

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