Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Billy Apple

For many years I have been a passionate fan and collector of the New Zealand artist Billy Apple. He is a fascinating man with an imagination that comes from far, far left field. In the mid-seventies, Billy was one of a small number of artists to develop what now known as conceptual art. One of the best ideas he had was as a young artist in London: he changed his name from Barrie Bates to Billy Apple as a conceptual art work. A smart move in art terms but a brilliant one in memorability stakes.

As Billy Apple he showed in Europe and the United States, and somehow put in time to become a highly awarded designer in New York. He now lives in Auckland. I have a number of Billy's paintings and we are helping out with a new project that involves the naming of the (yes) Billy Apple. I'm talking about an apple called ... Billy Apple. As I say, his imagination is out there.

Working in an industry that lives and dies on its ability to come up with creative ideas, people like Billy are a true inspiration. A large exhibition looking at all stages of his art career is in the planning. I'll keep you posted.


jj said...

Agreed. Billy Apple has very interesting ideas. Having gone to school and art school back in NZ, I've been a fan ever since. There is often a great sense of humour about his conceptual work too. For instance, if you follow your 'Billy Apple' link to the Hamish McKay Gallery (some other great artists there too), there is a painting by Billy Apple which simply says "Lunches, A barter between Billy Apple and Haimish McKay" Ha, brilliant!

Manuel said...


I have a really interesting Billy Apple story. I used to be the graphic designer at the LGBT Center in New York. The Center is located in an old NYC building, and not everything is nice and tidy (it´s a very 'grassroots' organization) and during my last days there (before I moved to Barcelona in Aug. 2007)there was a screenprint of a rainbow just lying there with a pile of random (some quite trashy) artworks and pictures. I asked the cultural affairs director if I could have it and he said "take it, it´s trash."

I thought (and probably so did he) that the rainbow print was some kind of gay pride thing done by some anonimous guy who gave it to the Center. Upon arriving home that evening I started to carefully analyze it: It was signed in pencil by some Billy Apple and had the serial number plus 1965 written in pencil. Only upon researching on the web did I realize that I had stumbled upon a treasure by a top pop artist. I went on to buy a copy of Life magazine featuring the exhibit "The American Supermarket" which shows Billy Apple sharing a color spread with Andy Warhol. Only when I show this do my friends react.

Today my Billy Apple hangs proudly in our Barcelona flat, and I plan to give it to the MACBA when I die (which hopefully will be a long time away...)

Tristian Koenig said...


Just a short note to let you all know that Billy Apple will be holding a solo exhibition with Neon Parc, Melbourne, Australia, next week.

The exhibition, held in conjunction with Hamish McKay Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand, will include original photographic documentation of Apple's 'Four Activities', held at APPLE 161 West 23rd Street, New York, on the 20 March, 1971.

This is an infamous Apple work, with the images included and reproduced in Lippard's 'Six years: The dematerialization of the art object'.

Exhibition dates are October 3-29, with the opening held on October 4 with Billy


Anonymous said...

Just wondering if anyone has any idea of the value of a Billy Apple1965 Rainbow screenprint numbered XI/XII HC.

Any help would be appreciated.



Anonymous said...

Hello Kevin,

I stumbled across your blog, whilst checking the correct spelling for Billy Apple©.
To be exact: do I include the © or not?
There is a funny coincedence in your blog and some of our projects. Not only are we about to do a project for Saatchi&Saatchi here in the Netherlands, but we've also just done a project with Billy Apple©!

At the moment (of writing), Billy has a solo exhibition at Witte de With - center for contemporary art in Rotterdam.
Together with Sculpture International Rotterdam, Witte de With asked Mothership to do the production for two works by Billy in Rotterdam's public space.
The exhibition runs until September13th, 2009.

The sticker on the facade of the Weenapoint building is right in fornt of Centraal Station (railway station). When you exit the station, the work hits you right in the face.
Just like a well placed advertisement would do. ;)
Kind regards,

Joost from Mothership
Rotterdam, The Netherlands.