Anton Heyboer (*1924 Sabang ID | † 2005 Den Ilp NL) was a Dutch painter and printmaker.
Heyboer was born on the island of Pulau Weh, northern Sumatra, to a Dutch mechanical engineer and a school teacher. In his early years, he was raised by a local nanny, “Baboe Jami”, the memory of whom would later influence Heyboer’s idea of the the ‘original woman’. The Heyboer family moved to Curaçao where Anton began training to become a mechanical engineer like his father. However, when on vacation in the Netherlands in 1939, they could not return and instead settled in Voorburg. In 1942, the Heyboers moved to Haarlem and Anton began training to become a technical draughtsman. After only three months he was awarded a diploma for aptitude and began to work for his uncle at the Figee Crane Company. The following year he was conscripted for work service in Germany, during which he became seriously ill.
After the war, Heyboer moved to Borger, Netherlands, where he met and moved in with Hans Heyting, a dutch poet, playwright and painter. Heyboer assisted in establishing the club Vereniging Drentse Schilders and began painting intensively, leading to the club becoming known as “Rembrandtplein”. In 1946, his work was shown with that of the other Drentse Schilders in Assen.
In 1948, Heyboer moved in with the novelist Nol van Gilst. Van Gilst gifted him with a small leather press with which Heyboer began to make etchings. After Van Gilst moved out, the woman who would become his first wife, Elsa Wijnands, moved in. In 1949, Heyboer held his first exhibition, alongside the painter Jan Kagie, which acted as his artistic debut, and was henceforth recognized official as an artist by the city of Haarlem. In 1950, Heyboer married his second wife, also named Elsa, however his mental state deteriorated and was hospitalized later that year.
By 1951, Heyboer was diagnosed with a “Christus Complex”, and his art experienced a turning point: he developed a system for showing other the “innocence” of their lives. After discharged from the hospital, Heyboer and Elsa took to visiting Ijmuiden where they attempted to live completely independently through fishing, leftovers from smokeries and bartering his works for other goods and services. Heyboer assisted in the formation of a new arts group, De Groep, a new offshoot of the Kunst zij ons doel involving most of their young members. In December 1952, Heyboer had an exhibition of works with others from De Groep at Huis van Looy. His son was born in August 1952, putting an end to his bohemian lifestyle.
Heyboer moved into the print shop of his brother-in-law on Klein Heiligland, where he made etchings and plaster sculptures. In 1953, Heyboer met the 16 year old Erna Kramer. He moved his studio into a shed behind her parents’ house. Heyboer and Elsa divorced and he moved into the attic of Henri Boot, where he established a workshop and called himself “Mari”. In 1956, Heyboer married Erna after converting to Catholicism. Their daughter Marcelle was born in 1957, and that same year he held an exhibition in Galerie Espace where the Stedelijk Museum, MOMA and the Brooklyn Museum of Art purchased his works.
While Heyboer’s artistic career thrived, his marriage disintergrated and in 1959 Heyboer divorced Erna. In 1960 he moved in with his new love Maria to a farmhouse in Ouderkerk aan de Amstel. Maria accepted Heyboer’s new communistic lifestyle, and welcomed the door to Anton’s other loves, thus forming their famous commune known as “De Bruiden van Heyboer” (the brides of Heyboer).
In the 1960s, Heyboer began to receive international recognition. His works were shown in Documenta 2 (1959) Documenta 3 (1964) and Documenta 4 (1969) in the department of graphic arts. In 1962, he received the Ohara Museum Prize and in 1964 the Accademia Fiorentina delle arte del Disegno of Florence made him “Academico Onorario Classe Incisione”.
In 1984, broke with the entire establishment of museums and the art market: he felt that his work was overpriced and felt constricted by regulations on his print production from etchings. He wished the public to experience art as a part of daily life. Instead, his wife Petra Heijnoer-Timmermans managed the marketing and sale of his artwork to anyone who wished to purchase one at her Anton Heyboer Gallery.
Secluded on his commune in de Ilp, Heyboer continued to lived and work there until his death in 2005.