Billy Apple was born Barrie Bates at Auckland in 1935. While studying at London’s Royal College of Art, Bates soon became close friends with fellow students David Hockney, Derek Boshier, Ron Kitaj and Allen Jones.
In 1961, Hockney and Apple (as Barrie Bates) travelled to New York where they bleached their hair as an attention-getting gesture, attracted by the Clairol advertising line that “blondes have more fun; doors open for a blonde.”
Subsequently back at 13 Bath Street, London, on Thursday 22 November 1962 the artist created a new identity as “Billy Apple”, changing both his name and appearance.
Billy Apple Bleaching with Lady Clairol Instant Crème Whip, November 1962 is a self-portrait that marks the moment when Barrie Bates no longer existed and Billy Apple assumed a new identity.
His blonded ‘look’ established that he was a living art object functioning as an artwork. With painter Richard Smith operating the camera, Apple looks at a mirror while seeing himself anew; from a perspective where life has the real potential to become art.
Marco Livingstone wrote in his history of Pop Art that Apple ‘re-invented” himself, to use his own term, in a sense making himself the trademark with which to market his work.’
- Billy Apple Bleaching with Lady Clairol Instant Crème Whip, November 1962
- Production date
- gold-toned silver gelatin print with screen-printed text
- 408 x 575 mm
- Credit line
- Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 2015
- Accession no
- Other ID
- X2014/32 Old Accession Number
- Copying restrictions apply
- New Zealand Art
- Display status
- Not on display
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