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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sam Havadtoy

Sam Havadtoy's gallery and his highly subtle work.
Years ago, when I was younger (I won't say how much younger), I harbored the dream of one day owning my own art gallery. In a virtual sense, that dream has come true through my online presence at As time passed, as I chose a career in teaching; as ambition took a hard look at reality; the dream (or perhaps, fantasy) faded. That was probably just as well. Today I would no more consider such a venture than I would opening a McDonald's on the moon. That life (what little I have left) would be far too stressful and confining, even if I could afford to hire someone to do all the dirty work while I simply dropped by to dispense wine at cheese at the occasional opening of a featured artist's exhibit. It takes a lot of different elements all coming together at once to make a successful art gallery. The most important, of course, being money (lots and lots of it) either the owner's or a wealthy partner not adverse the sizable risk of a sizable sum. It takes a sharp business acumen, a sharp eye for art, a good location, patience, daring, hard work, and luck. Also, perhaps even more important than money, is knowing the right people (creative artists) and the right people with extra money to buy art. Moreover, the successful gallery owner must be able to handle both these often temperamental groups with skill and finesse.
Havadtoy's Pinocchio and the Duks--Disney? Disney who?
One such individual is Sam Havadtoy (the "d" is silent). To the list of traits above, I might also it also helps to be an artist. Havadtoy possesses that gift as well. At least, if you can't move the work of others, perhaps you can sell your own. I might also add that Havadtoy has also been a highly popular interior designer, working for the likes of David Bowie, Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, George Condo, and Donald Baechler. Perhaps his most famous client has been Yoko Ono (below), with whom he is said to have had a 20-year "relationship" and business partnership.

Knowing the right people, Sam Havadtoy and friends, 1980s.
In 1978 Mr. Havadtoy, was 24. He was working at the Stuart Greet gallery in New York, selling antiques and doing interior design work. John Lennon and Yoko Ono admired a pair of Italian Egyptian revival chairs in the window, walked in, and bought them. Havadtoy later did the interiors of several of their homes, including apartments in the Dakota. When Lennon was killed in 1980, Mr. Havadtoy became Yoko Ono's closest companion, beginning a relationship that lasted longer than had her marriage to Lennon. Described as her boyfriend, companion, spokesman, partner, manager, assistant, business administrator and secret husband, Havadtoy, who separating from Ms. Ono in 2000, described the friendship as "complex." She was just one of many "right people" needed to maintain a successful art gallery.

Three Lenins, Sam Havadtoy
Though British-born (1952), Sam Havadtoy is Hungarian-American. While still a young child, his family returned to their homeland in the spring of 1956, just before the Hungarian Revolution broke out. After the Revolution it became impossible for the family to move back to the West. It took fourteen years for Havadtoy to acquire his British citizenship. Eventually, in 1971, the young artist fled Hungary, through Yugoslavia, back to the England, where he met the antique dealer Stuart Greet. Greet hired him and together they moved to New York where Havadtoy joined the artist circle of Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, Yoko Ono and Jasper Johns. In 1978 he founded Samuel Havadtoy Gallery, an interior designer firm, which gradually evolved into an art gallery. His stable of artist grew to include Agnes Martin, Cindy Sherman, Kiki Smith, Robert Mapplethorpe, Ross Bleckner, Donald Sultan, Donald Baechler and the giant talent of László Moholy-Nagy.

Untitled IV, 2010, Sam Havadtoy
Sam Havadtoy from his
balcony in Budapest.
In the second half of the 80s', the Communist Bloc in Eastern Europe gradually dissolved. Havadtoy took the opportunity to travel increasingly to Hungary. There, in Budapest, In 1992, he founded Gallery 56, which became significant in the Hungarian contemporary art scene by exposing important artists who were considered rarities in Hungary at the time. The gallery focused mainly on displaying the work American artists Havadtoy had known and worked with in New York. He now lives in Budapest and Liguria, Italy. Though Havadtoy started painting just after moving to New York, his unmistakable style came only during the late 1980s when he began using oils, acrylics, and lace with mixed painting techniques. True to his broad background, Havadtoy's works reflect subtle blends of mostly Middle European and American pop culture.
Nobody Knows that I Am Gay, Sam Havadtoy.


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