Billy Apple

b. 1935 (Barrie Bates)

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Billy Apple® is a trademarked art brand. One of the original pioneers of Pop, he graduated from the RCA, London in 1962, changing his name in a conceptual self-branding exercise to establish his art brand and thereby remove the arbitrary distinction between art and life. The uniquely toned silver gelatin print in RE:VISION, Billy Apple bleaching with Lady Clairol Instant Crème Whip, November 1962, is the document of that earliest conceptual transformation whereby Apple could proceed to claim everyday objects (like apples) and life activities (like cleaning and vacuuming) as art.

Thus began Apple’s six-decade art career with pop-related works, which then developed into a conceptual and process-oriented practice. He moved across the Atlantic in 1964 where he established APPLE, a not-for-profit space (1969 –1973) at 161 West 23rd Street, NYC, and exhibited in New York’s museum, dealer gallery and alternative art scenes, including the Guggenheim, Leo Castelli Gallery and Clocktower, and for one year was director of 112 Greene Street Gallery (1975–76). The Serpentine Gallery, London, hosted a major survey exhibition in 1974 that brought together his pop and conceptual works. He toured NZ in 1975 and 1979–80, producing a string of site-specific installations. Since the early 1980s Apple has complemented his installation practice with text-based works that reference the art system and highlight the relations between artist, dealer, and collector. He formalised his art brand status by becoming a registered trademark in 2007 and he continues to develop projects that address this. Auckland City Council commissioned Apple for a large-scale permanent public art project across two landscape sites to mark the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup held in Auckland.

Apple exhibits regularly both locally and internationally. Recent survey exhibitions include the Witte de With, Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam, 2009; Adam Art Gallery, Wellington, 2010; and The Mayor Gallery, London, 2010 and 2013. An upcoming survey exhibition is scheduled for March 2015 at Auckland Art Gallery Toi O Tamaki.

Recent selected international exhibitions include: When Britain Went Pop! British Pop Art: The Early Years, Christie’s Mayfair, London, 2013; The Immortalisation of Billy Apple®, Starkwhite, Art Basel Hong Kong, 2013; Pop Art in Western Europe, Museum het Valkhof, Nijmegen, 2013; Gold, Belvedere Palace Museum, Vienna, 2012; Howard Wise Gallery: Exploring the New, Moeller Fine Art, Berlin and New York, 2012; Remix, Chrysler Museum of Art, Virginia, 2011–2012; Museum in Agency of Unrealised Projects, curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist, Kopfbau Basel, 2011; For Love Not Money, The 15th Tallinn Print Triennial, Tallinn 2011; “Early Conceptualists”, Chapter Two, Galerie Jocelyn Wolff Gallery, Paris, 2011; and Alternative Histories, Exit Art, New York, 2010.

Apple’s work is held in public collections such as the Detroit Institute of Arts; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; National Gallery of Australia and Te Papa Tongarewa, Museum of New Zealand. Recent acquisitions include the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and Tate Britain.

  • Billy Apple Bleaching with Lady Clairol Instant Crème Whip, November 1962
    Billy Apple Bleaching with Lady Clairol Instant Crème Whip, November 1962

    Uniquely toned silver gelatin print

    1 of 3 uniquely toned silver gelatin prints from original 1962 film

    408 x 575 mm

    Courtesy the artist and Starkwhite