Richard Hambleton, a Rare Portrait

Last fall I got the unique opportunity (via the Wall Street Journal) to visit the studio of the reclusive, iconic artist, Richard Hambleton. I will not try to explain his work or his place in the art world, but rather my experience photographing a man who probably had not had a portrait made since 1980s (at least from my research). The reason I was there was because he was having a 40 year retrospective in collaboration with Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld, Andy Valmorbida, and Giorgio Armani. Mon-ey.

The editor told me he had not had any visitors for at least 10 years. What I found was a ghostlike man in white paint-splattered clothes who was - how shall I say - a little worse for wear? His studio was a cavernous Lower East Side loft with all the windows blacked out, filled with paint, paper, stuff, and stuff. Nowhere to rest your eyes. "A real artist's studio!" the chaperone said excitedly. Yes, I know of this - the Real Artist.

He said that he did not want me to take his photo, since it was a "very bad day for photos". But of course I pressed on kindly, and soon I could see that he was really a ham underneath the years of isolation. He had clear blue eyes, a little smirk, and he seemed to liked the attention. I liked him, and I hope I did him justice.

This was the most perfect assignment I could possibly imagine. Thanks Erica and Barbara!

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