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Artist

Billy Apple

Billy Apple
Unidentified Fluorescent Object, 1967
Neon
51 x 28 x 20 in. (129.5 x 71.1 x 50.8 cm)

Chronology

New Zealand artist Billy Apple (b. Barrie Bates, 1935) is one of the first artists to use neon lights in art work. Apple is best known for his involvement in the New York and London Pop art movements of the 1960s and with the conceptual art movement in the 1970s. He was included in the important 1964 exhibit "The American Supermarket," a show held in Paul Bianchini's Upper East Side gallery. The show was presented as a typical small supermarket environment, except that everything in it — the produce, canned goods, meat, posters on the wall, etc., was created by prominent pop artists of the time, including Billy Apple, Andy Warhol, Tom Wesselmann, Claes Oldenburg, and Jasper Johns. The Howard Wise Gallery exhibited Apple’s neon light sculptures in a pioneering exhibition Unidentified Fluorescent Objects (UFOs). His work in included in public institutions, such as in the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, the Detroit Institute of Arts, and the Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York.

Billy Apple (b. 1935)

1935
Billy Apple (Barrie Bates) is born in Auckland, New Zealand.

1959
Leaves New Zealand to study graphic design at the Royal College of Art, London.

1962
Graduates from the Royal College of Art and changes his name to Billy Apple.

1964
Moves to New York, where his work is included in Paul Branchini’s exhibition “The American Supermarket,” along with other pop artists such as Andy Warhol, Tom Wesselmann and Jasper Johns.

1969
His works becomes more conceptual and process-oriented. He establishes Apple, a not-for-profit venue to exhibit his work.

1974
A major retrospective is held at the Serpentine Gallery, London.

1975-76
Serves as director of the 112 Greene Street Gallery, New York.

1975, 1979-80
Travels to New Zealand.

1977-84
Four exhibitions of his work are held at the Leo Castelli Gallery, New York.

1980s
Begins complementing his installations with text-based works.

1990s
Moves to Auckland.

2007
His name becomes a registered trademark.

2011
Receives a commission from the city of Auckland for a large-scale public work for the Rugby World Cup.