The Mayor Gallery presents a major solo exhibition by
Billy Apple opening 15 September 2010.
This will be the first time Billy Apple’s works have been
seen in London since From Barrie Bates to Billy Apple, his
solo survey exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery in 1974,
and a unique opportunity to review his contribution to
the history of Pop Art as it took shape on both sides of the
Atlantic in the 1960s.
Drawing on works gathered together for the artist’s first
European retrospective staged at Witte de With Center
for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam in 2009, with the
addition of works directly from the artist’s studio in
Auckland New Zealand, this exhibition sets out to re-introduce
a key figure whose artistic moves are an intriguing
but overlooked feature of Pop Art as it evolved in London
and New York in the Sixties.
Born in New Zealand in 1935, Apple (who was then
known as Barrie Bates) studied at the Royal College of
Art between 1959 and 1962, at an exciting moment in
the history of the College, exhibiting alongside fellow
artists such as David Hockney in the annual Young
Contemporaries exhibitions, as well as designing posters
for these important showcases.
After graduating he notoriously changed his name and
altered his appearance (with the aid of Lady Clairol
Instant Crème Whip), becoming ‘Billy Apple’ in a selfconscious
art action that doubled as a canny exercise in
re-branding (the implications of which he is still actively
exploring in his practice to this day).
The Mayor Gallery is proud to re-present works Apple
made for his 1963 solo show at Victor Musgrave’s Gallery
One that documented his dramatic and prescient selftransformation,
which included cast and painted bronzes of
body parts and everyday foodstuffs, neons, and ‘paintings’.
Notably, the show features one of his Self Portrait series
that made multiple use of a commissioned photograph by
Robert Freeman, transferred by offset lithography to
canvas, a serial image that pre-dates Andy Warhol’s
earliest screen-printed self portraits by some months.
These British works are brought together for the first
time with canvases, prints, sculptures and neons produced
after the artist moved to New York in 1964, an example
being Big Mouth, a cast bronze of a half-eaten slice of
watermelon, that was included in the groundbreaking
exhibition American Supermarket at the Bianchini
Gallery in 1964. This show-cum-event transformed the
gallery into the simulacrum of an actual retail space,
mixing real products along with works of art by Andy
Warhol, Jasper Johns, Tom Wesselman, Bob Watts, Roy
Lichtenstein and others.
The current exhibition also includes rare vintage photographs
and ephemera that reveal the proto-conceptual
nature of Apple’s early practice and prove his integral role
in the art scenes of both cities.
Together, all the works in the exhibition demonstrate
the rigour of Apple’s thinking as he navigated the rapidly
changing British and American art scenes and developed
his critical responses to the artistic, social, and economic
consequences of living in an era of rapid technological
change, expanding market conditions and the exploding
horizons of contemporary image culture.
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully-illustrated
publication (£15 + PP) that includes a major new essay by
art historian Christina Barton, who has written extensively
on various aspects of the artist’s career.
Mon-Fri 10am-5.30pm; Sat 12pm-3pm - Admission: Free
Nearest Tube Station: Green Park or Piccadilly Circus
Niina Cunynghame at The Mayor Gallery