Horse and Rider
Richard Hambleton—often referred to as the godfather of street art—is recognized as an intermediary between Abstract Expressionism and “art for the masses” graffiti popularized in the 1980s. His “Horse and Rider” character (a shadowy figure that calls to mind Robert Motherwell’s splotchy ink drawings and imagery from Hollywood’s exaggerated Spaghetti Westerns) emerged in the 1970s when Hambleton was living in the violent and gritty Lower East Side neighborhood of Manhattan. Painting the figure in alleyways and heroin-dealing hotspots, Hambleton leaned into the post-apocalyptic feel of the troubled neighborhood and its “walking dead” junkies. The horse and rider became a representation of life on the edge: a human balancing atop an uncontrollable horse in mid-buck, cracking a whip as if trying to quiet one’s own vices.