An under-acknowledged art world connection forged by Malcolm McLaren during his fashion design partnership with Vivienne Westwood was to the godfather of street art, conceptual artist Richard Hambleton.
During his forays in New York in the early 80s, McLaren was struck by Hambleton’s eerie representations of The Shadow Man figure; there was one on a wall in Bethune Street in the West Village, near the studio of McLaren’s photographer friend and ally Bob Gruen.
“Like me, Malcolm loved The Shadow Man,” Gruen told me in 2013. “When Malcolm came for a session to promote Duck Rock in the spring of 1983 we dropped down to the street below and got some shots of him and his girlfriend Andrea (Linz) posing with it.”
Both McLaren and Linz were decked out in clothes from the Witches collection, which had been just been shown in Europe.
And, in recognition of Hambleton’s importance, a jersey skirt with roll top and piping from Witches featured a Shadow Man, just as other Witches garments carried designs commissioned by McLaren and his art director Nick Egan from Keith Haring, who, of course, also contributed to the Duck Rock cover.
The above photograph is from the archive of Hank O’Neal, whose special projects include cataloguing the Shadow Men as they appeared on the Manhattan streets in 1981-2. He and Hambleton have subsequently exhibited together.
Visit O’Neal’s website page dedicated to The Shadow Man here.
Richard Hambleton is represented by Woodward Gallery.
Visit Bob Gruen’s website here.
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