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ART X Lagos: Nigeria’s Art Renaissance Ocula Report ART X Lagos: Nigeria’s Art Renaissance 17 November 201817 Nov 2018 : Jareh Das for Ocula

Nigeria's art scene has flourished over the last decade, leading to a renewed interest in cultivating and supporting modern and contemporary art in the country. Ranked Africa's largest economy in 2017, making up 0.8 percent of the world's GDP, a surge in wealth amongst some individuals has led to a developing collector base (not to mention rising...

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Cao Fei Ocula Conversation Cao Fei Artist

Cao Fei's first large-scale institutional exhibition in Asia, A hollow in a world too full (8 September 2018–4 January 2019), is taking place at Tai Kwun Contemporary in Hong Kong, the city's new non-profit art centre housed in a former colonial police and prison complex in Central. Organised in collaboration with Ullens Center for Contemporary Art...

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Shanghai's West Bund and Art021 fairs overlap in 2018 Ocula Report Shanghai's West Bund and Art021 fairs overlap in 2018 17 November 201817 Nov 2018 : Diana d’Arenberg for Ocula

The last time I visited West Bund Art & Design was four years ago, when the fair was in its first year of operation: a small, boutique offering held in a cavernous hangar that seemed too big for it. Much has changed since then. Mirroring the rapid development of the city itself, West Bund has grown from 25 galleries in 2014 to a fair that...

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Billy Apple is a pioneer pop and conceptual artist who, though born in New Zealand in 1935 as Barrie Bates, reinvented himself in 1962 as 'Billy Apple' after studying graphic design at the Royal College of Art in London. The change in name (accompanied by dyed-blonde hair) exemplified Apple's interest in the mechanisms of commerce and branding. His constructed identity became a marketing device for which he later developed a fruit-shaped logo, then internationally registered as a trademark in 2008.

Apple's 'folksy' first name and vegetative surname were irrevocably merged with his artist's body (and new persona) to become an artwork. All activities undertaken by that body—such as cleaning windows or vacuuming the floor—and its by-products—like nasal mucus, semen, earwax or faeces—in the early 1970s became artworks too. No matter how difficult, they were works that could eventually be sold through dealers and galleries.

In the early 1980s, Apple began to look at the underpinning principles of fiscal exchange dominant in the art world by presenting neatly designed screenprints or paintings—executed by professional sign writers—of text that articulated the conventions of capital transactions such as selling, bartering, IOUs, commissioning or the paying of the artist's bills. The text paintings or prints stated the rudimentary details of each transaction. With this system, Apple shrewdly used the brand to perpetuate itself by drawing in funds from the sales of the works to sustain the thinking body that drove the brand. More recently and to the same end, he has sold conceptually connected products like Billy Apple Cider, or specially grown fruit, Billy Apples.

Such an interest in perpetuation applies beyond the brand to versions of Apple's physical body as well. In particular, four works shown in his 2018 solo exhibition Billy Apple Six Decades 1962-2018 at Rossi & Rossi in Hong Kong dealt with immortality. The two paintings (The Artist Will Live Forever [2016] and I Consent [2009/2015]), video (The Immortalisation of Billy Apple) Stage Two, Billy Apple Cell Line [2010]), and photograph (The Immortalisation of Billy Apple, 2009–15 [2010]), reference Apple's 2009 gifting (as part of a collaboration with geneticist Dr Craig Hilton) of samples of his somatic cell tissue in 2009 to a Massachusetts research organisation and an Auckland laboratory. In both places, the cells are kept alive in special incubators and are studied for cancer research, genetic analysis and possibilities for cloning.

Apple has collaborated with scientists on several occasions. In 2016, he began a project with Dr Justin O'Sullivan, a molecular biologist connected to the Liggins Institute at the University of Auckland who is interested in the bacterial mini-ecosystems in various human body parts, including the gut. For a project that spans 46 years, Apple twice provided samples of used toilet paper (in 1970 and 2016) to be analysed to see the degree of difference. Of interest to O'Sullivan is how some microbes seem to be selected by each person's genetic make-up to stick around over the course of decades. The 1970 toilet paper was part of Apple's Excretory Wipings, 18 May-21 October 1970 project, originally exhibited in New York in 1971 and later shown briefly in a 1974 Serpentine Gallery survey before being shut down by the London authorities. A new work resulted from his collaboration with O'Sullivan, titled N=1 (2018), which incorporated an analysis of the microbial changes in a chart. The two-panel work was donated by Apple to the Liggins Institute.

Selected exhibitions from Apple's long career include: The American Supermarket, Bianchini Gallery, New York (1964); From Barrie Bates to Billy Apple: 1960-74, Serpentine Galleries, London (1974); Billy Apple: As Good As Gold: Art Transactions 1981-91, Wellington City Art Gallery (1991); Revealed / Concealed, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam (2009); Billy Apple: British and American Works 1960-1969, The Mayor Gallery, London (2010); and Billy Apple: The Artist Has To Live Like Everybody Else, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki (2015).

John Hurrell | Ocula | 2018
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Featured Artworks

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Billy Apple Frieze (Yellow) by Billy Apple contemporary artwork Billy AppleBilly Apple Frieze (Yellow), 2018 UV pigment ink on canvas
24.7 x 40 cm
Hamish McKay Request price & availability
Billy Apple Frieze (Red) by Billy Apple contemporary artwork Billy AppleBilly Apple Frieze (Red), 2018 UV pigment ink on canvas
24.7 x 40 cm
Hamish McKay Request price & availability
Billy Apple Frieze (Green) by Billy Apple contemporary artwork Billy AppleBilly Apple Frieze (Green), 2018 UV pigment ink on canvas
24.7 x 40 cm
Hamish McKay Request price & availability
From the Billy Apple Collection by Billy Apple contemporary artwork Billy AppleFrom the Billy Apple Collection, 2018 UV pigment ink on canvas
40 x 25 cm
Hamish McKay Request price & availability
BRAND NEW by Billy Apple contemporary artwork Billy AppleBRAND NEW Acrylic on canvas
Starkwhite Request price & availability
Wall Drawing by Billy Apple contemporary artwork Billy AppleWall Drawing offset poster and pencil
Hamish McKay Contact gallery
THE ARTIST WILL LIVE FOREVER by Billy Apple contemporary artwork Billy AppleTHE ARTIST WILL LIVE FOREVER, 2013 Impregnated ink on canvas
61.8 x 100 cm
Starkwhite Request price & availability

Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Sampler at Starkwhite,
17 April–12 May 2018 Group Exhibition SamplerStarkwhite, Auckland
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Back to Front at Hamish McKay,
28 October–18 November 2017 Group Exhibition Back to FrontHamish McKay, Wellington

Represented By

Ocula Magazine

Billy Apple: In Focus Ocula Report Billy Apple: In Focus 28 June 201828 Jun 2018 : John Hurrell for Ocula

To present 21 works in Hong Kong, spanning approximately six decades (1962–2018), is an unusual occasion for Billy Apple, a groundbreaking New Zealand-born artist whose pop-infused conceptual practice is mostly acknowledged in New Zealand, England (where he studied and worked from 1959 to 1964) and the United States (where he lived from 1964 to...

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Related Press

10 Hong Kong Art Exhibitions to see in June Related Press 10 Hong Kong Art Exhibitions to see in June Hong Kong Tatler : 5 June 2018

New Zealand artist Billy Apple seems to have always been in the right place at the right time. In the early 1960s, he moved from Auckland to London and worked alongside artists who would become leading figures in the Pop Art movement, including David Hockney and Pauline Boty.After that he moved on to New York, and in 1964 he collaborated with Andy...

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Three Apple Transactions Related Press Three Apple Transactions EyeContact : 19 February 2017

In this Starkwhite installation of three historic 'Transaction' works - Apple's N.F.S. (1987), his P.O.A. (1987) and his working drawing for an earlier For Sale painting (1961), made by his corporeal and mental predecessor, the artist Barrie Bates, a year before he became the living artwork, Billy Apple - we see an examination of some aspects of...

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Mercurial consistency: Billy Apple Related Press Mercurial consistency: Billy Apple Art Asia Pacific : 4 September 2015

Without question one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most remarkable artists, Billy Apple is nearing 80. His lengthy, and still ongoing, career has encompassed direct involvement in some of the most crucial phenomena of postwar and contemporary art, from Pop to Conceptualism, body art to institutional critique—sometimes all together. While...

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Compatible Partnership or Domination? Related Press Compatible Partnership or Domination? EyeContact : 31 July 2015

With its official opening last Saturday morning, the latest transmutation of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery is now open for public inspection, alongside its dazzling new neighbour and partner (by virtue of sharing the same director), the Len Lye Centre. New Zealand Aotearoa’s art communities will watch Simon Rees with interest as he...

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