Billy Apple: Life/Work
A major study of New Zealand’s most internationally significant living artist.
Billy Apple (born Barrie Bates in Auckland, 1935) is New Zealand’s most internationally significant living artist and a pioneer of pop and conceptual art.
At the Royal College of Art in London from 1959–62, Apple studied with key contemporaries – notably David Hockney – and staged one of the earliest solo exhibitions in the new ‘pop’ art after changing his name, in 1962, to ‘Billy Apple’. In 1964 he moved to New York. There, he worked as an art director, developed his art, exhibited extensively with leading artists (notably in the 1964 American Supermarket exhibition with Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns and others), and established one of the first alternative art spaces – ‘Apple’ – which hosted some of the new ephemeral activities that enlivened the New York scene in the 1970s. He returned to live in New Zealand in 1990 where he continues to produce his particular brand of conceptual art. Apple’s work is held in permanent collections from the Tate to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
This is the first substantial book on Billy Apple’s career. Based on over a decade of research all over the world and unprecedented access to Apple’s own archive, Billy Apple®: Life/Work chronicles an extraordinary sixty-year career and the art scenes that have sustained it in London, New York and Auckland.
The book includes more than 200 illustrations in colour, with a generous selection of reproductions of Apple’s works as well as other illustrative material.
Best Awards Finalist, Feedback:
Billy Apple®: Life / Work is the first substantial book on Billy Apple’s career. Drawing on material from over a decade in archives worldwide as well as unprecedented access to Apple’s own archive, Tina Barton chronicles how Billy Apple has developed his art over 60 years from London to New York to Auckland. The study includes a 130,000-word text and 200 illustrations in colour, with a generous selection of reproductions of Apple’s works plus other illustrative material. Many of the illustrations have never previously been published. The brief noted that it shouldn’t look like an artist book but a book for reading about an artist. The book is not an academic monograph; it’s an art history book about Billy and his work, aimed at a bookstore audience, rather than a book for galleries/libraries/specialists, so it needed to look and feel like an accessible book about a man and his art.
Determining the format was the first consideration for this publication. The book is essentially an illustrated essay, so it’s closer to a novel than a coffee table art book. The cover features front and rearview portraits from original transparencies used in an iconic 1963 artwork and acknowledges a design construct from a series of previous Apple publications. The headings are set in Futura, Apple’s signature typeface, and the body copy is set in the neutral Untitled Sans. A single-column grid is utilised for an easy reading experience, and images and marginalia are dispersed throughout the essay. Extensive footnotes are also included on the page where referenced, adding a vital layer of information for the reader. Red and green title pages demarcate transitional periods in Billy’s career.