Billy Apple an Artist Who Was His Own Life’s Work
“Over his long, provocative career, the [New Zealand-born] artist Billy Apple changed his name, registered it as a trademark, branded products with it, had his genome sequenced and, finally, arranged to have his cells extracted and stored so that they might survive forever even if he could not,” Penelope Green writes for The New York Times.
“He was born Barrie Bates in Auckland but became Billy Apple in London after graduating, barely, from the Royal College of Art in 1962, one of a rebellious cohort that included David Hockney and R.B. Kitaj,” Green writes.
“By 1964 he was in New York City (subletting a loft on the Bowery from the sculptor Eva Hesse) and showing his work. His cast bronze, half-eaten watermelon slice was one of many objects included in ‘The American Supermarket’, an early Pop spectacle at the Bianchini Gallery on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where one could buy artist’s versions of real products: a painted turkey by Roy Lichtenstein, candy made by Claes Oldenburg and Campbell’s soup cans signed by Andy Warhol. The gallerist took orders on a grocer’s pad.
“‘He was a conceptual artist in the most fundamental sense,’ said Christina Barton, a university museum director and art historian who is the author of ‘Billy Apple® Life/Work’, a biography 10 years in the making and published in 2020. ‘He was committed to living the idea in every minute of every day. He never stopped being “Billy Apple”, which of course is a total invention.’”
Original article by Penelope Green, The New York Times, October 7, 2021.
Photo by Neil Boenzi.