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Eberhard Havekost, Painter of Unsettling Scenes of Modernity, Dies at 51

Eberhard Havekost, 'AH,' 2018, oil on canvas

Eberhard Havekost, AH, 2018, oil on canvas.

MATTHIAS KOLB/COURTESY CONTEMPORARY FINE ARTS

Artist Eberhard Havekost, who often based his dynamic, eerie paintings on photographs and digital images, died in Berlin on July 5 at age 51. Galerie Gebr. Lehmann in Dresden said that Havekost died “a natural death,” and no cause has been provided to ARTnews.

Havekost’s practice spanned abstraction and figuration, and his works frequently blur the line between those two modes of making. His depictions of human bodies, faces, and parts are usually heavy with a sense of abjection. The artist’s use of perspective, too, created a disorienting, vertiginous effect in many of his scenes featuring subjects like cars, homes, apartment buildings, domestic interiors, and everyday objects.

He once said of his chosen medium, “Painting engenders rhythm through its self-referentiality. It introduces an abstraction, namely a reduction in favor of the total picture. In painting, everything must be defined. An undefined space in photography must be defined in painting. Thus, an undefined space in painting must be redefined. Information is a transformation of reality or a structuring of reality. Every picture has a system contact. You can always infer from a single picture to a system. I don’t think that there are individual pictures.”

[View works from throughout Eberhard Havekost’s career.]

In a statement, Anton Kern Gallery, which represented the artist in New York, said, “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our dear friend and artist, Eberhard Havekost. Anton first saw Havekost’s work in 1997 in Dresden, and subsequently gave him his first solo exhibition in New York in 1998. He had eight solo exhibitions at the gallery, and was an integral and beloved part of our community. He will be sorely missed by all of us.”

Born in Dresden in 1967, Havekost was the son of a sculptor and a taxidermist. He attended the Dresden Kreuzschule, and, after graduating in the mid-1980s, completed training as a stonemason. From 1991 to 1996, he studied painting at the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts, and he had his first solo exhibition in 1995 at Galerie Gebr. Lehmann, the enterprise that represented him in Dresden until his death.

“This completely unexpected death is a terrible shock for us,” Galerie Gebr. Lehmann said of Havekost’s passing in a statement to ARTnews. “Eberhard was a wonderful person and an incomparable artist. Our thoughts are with his family, his friends, and his many companions. He was a concisely thinking person with whom we are connected by more than 24 years of cooperation. We will miss him very much—as a friend and as an indispensable artist whose view was always directed towards the social future, who overcame norms and always stood agains the repetition of the past.”

In 2010, Havekost was appointed professor of painting at the Düsseldorf Art Academy, and, in recent years, he has shown work at Contemporary Fine Arts gallery, which represented him in Berlin, Anton Kern Gallery, Roberts Projects, which repped him in Los Angeles, and White Cube in London, among many other international venues.

His works can be found in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the Tate Modern in London, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Städel Museum in Frankfurt, and elsewhere.

Update 7/10/19, 10:55 a.m.: This post has been updated to include a comment from Galerie Gebr. Lehmann in Dresden.

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