Sam Havadtoy (born August 4, 1952) is a British born Hungarian-American interior designer, contemporary painter and owner of Gallery 56. He is well known for being part of the artist circle of New York including – among others - Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, Yoko Ono and Jasper Johns.
Havadtoy was born in London from Romanian father and Hungarian mother. The family returned to their homeland in the spring of 1956, just before the Hungarian Revolution broke out. After the Revolution it became increasingly difficult for the family to go back to the Western Block. It took 14 years for Havadtoy to acquire his British citizenship. Eventually in 1971 he fled Hungary, through former Yugoslavia, back to the United Kingdom, where he met the antique dealer, interior designer Stuart Greet. To Greet's invitation, Havadtoy moved to New York where he resided with gaps - e.g. he lived four years in Geneva, Switzerland - from there on until 2000.
In 1978 he founded Samuel Havadtoy Gallery, an interior designer gallery, where he himself worked as an interior designer until 1981. Havadtoy designed the homes of notable artists such as John Lennon's and he also was the interior designer of Keith Haring's last home. In 1981 Havadtoy turned to New York's artistic scene, where he became close friends with notable artists such as Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, George Condo, Donald Baechler and Yoko Ono with whom Havadtoy began a relationship, being her companion for over twenty years until 2001. Havadtoy inspired and contributed to many of Keith Haring's late works, for example in the making of the Triptych.
Havadtoy started painting at a young age, just after moving to New York, but acquired his unmistakable style during the 80s'. He mainly uses oil, acrylic and mixed techniques for his paintings. Havadtoy's works reflect subtle blends of different cultures, mostly Middle European and American pop culture.
In the second half of the 80s', due to the gradually dissolving Eastern Bloc, Havadtoy travelled increasingly to Hungary. In 1992 he founded Gallery 56, which became significant in the Hungarian contemporary art scene, among others, by exposing important artists who were considered rarities at the time. The gallery focused mainly on displaying American artists, for example Haring, Warhol, Agnes Martin, Cindy Sherman, Kiki Smith, Robert Mapplethorpe, Ross Bleckner, Donald Sultan, Donald Baechler. Some of the artists also participated personally on the vernissages. Living classics of Hungarian contemporary art were also represented and giant talents such as, László Moholy-Nagy. The name of the gallery comes from Yoko Ono, who alluded to the approaching revolution in the artworld.
- official webpage
- The New York Times by William L. Hamilton
- The Budapest Times
- Antropos - online cultural magazine – in Hungarian