Billy Sullivan (American, b.1946) was born in Brooklyn, NY, and studied at the New York High School of Art and Design, from which he graduated in 1964. He then attended the School of Visual Arts (also in New York), graduating in 1968. In 1988, he was awarded a degree in English Literature and Painting from Georgetown University, WA. Although Sullivan is best known for his portraits and still-lifes created with oils, pastels, and ink, he is also a renowned photographer who has been capturing images of life in New York, and of his own family and friends, since his teenage years. He began exploring photography professionally in 2002, and his later exhibitions incorporate photographic elements alongside his paintings.
Citing Andy Warhol (American, 1928–1987) as a creative influence, Sullivan has expressed particular admiration for Warhol's portrait work and his disaster paintings. Like Warhol, Sullivan often uses photography as a basis for creating paintings. His first major work, Das Blaue Auto, was created over the course of a decade, using mixed media and text, and it charted the development of a fictional European Art movement. Sullivan began incorporating photographs into his professional work with the project 3Situations (More Turns, Stop Down and Time Port), which was completed in 2007.
Sullivan went on to develope his interest in contrast and the means by which artists can use the power of contrast to generate emotional responses in the viewer. This has led him to study the history of black-and-white photography, and, in particular, the works of photographers such as Weegee, also known as Arthur Fellig (American, 1899–1968), and Daido Moriyama (Japanese, b.1938). Sullivan continues to exhibit internationally, with shows including Still, Looking, Kaufman Repetto, Milan, Italy, and Now & Then Baldwin Gallery, Aspen, CO, both of which took place in 2011. His permanent representation is the Sasha Wolf Gallery in New York.