Last night I watched a documentary on Billy Apple, a NZ artists who made his name in NY and came home again. I had heared of Billy Apple before but I knew very little about him. At the conclusion of the doco I knew that with out a doubt that the man is an absolute GENIUS. Bizarre? yes. Obsessive? yes. Fascinating? yes. Genius? with out a doubt.
In brief Billy Apple was born Barrie Bates. He was accepted into art school did fascinating things in the realms of pop art and neon lights. He was instinctively drawn to marketing and has worked on and off in the field of advertising creating now iconic advertisements for things like tea and clothes powder! Eventually Barrie decided to become a BRAND himself and Billy Apple was born. That is where the man is genius. HE became the art work. He became the brand. Everything Billy did was an extension of the art work that was him. He exhibited with greats like Andy Warhol and his name came up in the same circles as Robert Rauschenberg's.
His artwork broke rules and he sold concepts and ideas as opposed to actual 'take it home and hang it on a wall' art. Sometimes he took it to far. While you can get people too look at an exhibition of glass piles and floor sweepings (literally) and exhibition of his own bodily wiping's (yes really!) tested people beyond their level of acceptance. It was the concept of it the wiping's though that drove him. If he was the brand, the artwork -then these things where the deconstruction of the art work. The end result was the process and not the physical evidence ie: the wiping's or glass piles that drove him.
Now day's his art is 'take it home' art. On the 45th anniversary of the brand "Billy Apple" he signed 45 canvas's that had his trade marked 'Billy Apple" logo on them. He sold them for $4500 each. He doesn't even create the art himself. Like an architect designs a house and some-one else builds it Billy Apple designs the idea and a sign writer makes it. He is the brand just like Nike or Billabong. GENIUS!
Billy Apple changed the way people thought and what was perceived as being art and for that I am greatful.