James Havard


James Havard (1937-2020, Texas) drew from a range of artistic movements to create his energetic paintings, collages, sculptures and prints. In the 1970s, Havard pioneered Abstract Illusionism, a style that shaded shapes and brushstrokes to make them appear three-dimensional. Later in his career, the Southwestern artist turned to figuration, finding inspiration in indigenous culture, art history and Outsider Art. Havard’s compositions include raw and expressive characters in enigmatic scenes open to the viewer’s interpretation.


Havard began his career studying studio art at Sam Houston State University and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. In the 1980s, he moved from New York City to Santa Fe, where he lived and worked for the remainder of his career. He exhibited extensively for over fifty years in the United States and Europe through solo exhibitions in Germany, France, Sweden and Denmark. Havard’s work is held in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), Guggenheim Museum (New York), Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Smithsonian Institute (Washington D.C) and Museum of Modern Art (Stockholm).


Related Works

  • Early SoHo gallerist Louis K. Meisel used the term "abstract illusionism" to describe a circle of abstract painters with a shared aesthetic of expressive, hard-edge forms and trompe l'oeil effects. Along with Havard, the multidisciplinary artist Frank Stella is a prominent member of the movement. View his work.

  • Havard's recent work is inspired by tribal art. In the collection of our sister gallery, form & concept, check out Armond Lara and Susan Aaron-Taylor for more artwork influenced by tribal and shamanic aesthetics.