Due to his unusual lifestyle, Anton Heyboer was one of the most eccentric Dutch artists of recent decades. His turbulent lifestyle resulted in five marriages. He also described himself as 'the Robin Hood of the art world', referring to his high art output. Heyboer was trained as a mechanical engineer. After the Second World War he started drawing, albeit still in a traditional style. Between 1954 and 1957 he developed his own philosophical scheme on the basis of which his abstract works of art arose. Yet figurative elements always remain in his paintings and etchings. Heyboer also clarified the themes of his work with texts, in which human relationships often play a role.
Anton Heyboer, born in Indonesia, moves to the Netherlands when he is five months old. During the First World War, he is taken to a transit camp in Berlin as part of the Arbeitseinsatz, but manages to escape after a near-death experience. For years he is haunted by this war trauma. In 1951 he voluntarily checks into a psychiatric institution. There he comes to an understanding and 'the artist' is born. Heyboer gains insight into the structure of his soul and spirit and records this in drawings and etchings.
After two failed marriages, he settled in Den Ilp in 1961 in a cowshed that he kept expanding with outbuildings – and women. First Maria, then four more women followed. It was a pleasure for him to turn the established order upside down and not only his art, but also his polygamous lifestyle is getting more and more attention. Heijboer's etchings from the 1960s and 1970s, with a self-created symbolism, are reminiscent of the work of Joseph Beuys, whose work was also influenced by the horrors of the Second World War. His fame is growing, the MoMA in New York and the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag are also purchasing his work. In 1975, the now internationally renowned artist was given a major exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. But Heyboer finds it difficult to deal with his success and is increasingly feeling aversion to the established art order. He 'destroys' the work that returns from the exhibition by partially painting them over with red paint. In 1984 Heyboer breaks ties with the established art order and from then on works in seclusion in Den Ilp. From now on his wives will take care of the business side and sell his work from a specially purchased house across the road.
In 2002 Heyboer became a Knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau. He died in his sleep in 2005 at the age of 81 in his farm in Den Ilp.