Billy Apple® Work in public space

Through September 13, 2009, Witte de With presents a major solo exhibition by Billy Apple®. Comprising two parts, A History of the Brand and Revealed / Concealed, the exhibition extends into public space with two billboard commissions of Billy Apple®’s works. These large-scale works insert themselves into the visual fabric of the city through September 13.

Billboard installations are not new in the artist’s practise, in which the use of conventional marketing strategies within art has always been of central importance.

The proposition THE ARTIST HAS TO LIVE LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE functions as a statement in public space, claiming both the work’s and the artist’s rights to integrate into the reality of socio-economic structures.

Formulated and displayed for the first time during the economic boom of 1985, this statement has kept its relevance in a variety of different contexts. In 1991 it appeared as a running text on an outdoor electronic signboard, placed on the façade of the Bank of New Zealand’s (BNZ) office in Auckland. It reappeared in 1993 on the back cover of The National Business Review, linking the art of business with the business of art. By 1993 the artist had attached this statement to his Paid series. In this ongoing project, Billy Apple® offers for payment the invoices that he has received for a range of purchases from his day-to-day living. The collector pays the invoice and then receives it framed and mounted on a form titled Paid with the words ‘The artist has to live like everybody else’ written underneath. In these, Billy Apple® shortcuts the usual processes of making art, earning money and spending it. (These works are on show at Witte de With).

The second billboard incorporates aspects of the Billy Apple® brand with those of the collection of Sculpture International Rotterdam. Running down the face of a building on the Witte de Withstraat, this text-based work is presented like a rolling advertisement that has been halted for a moment in time.

FROM THE SCULPTURE INTERNATIONAL ROTTERDAM COLLECTION is drawn from Billy Apple®’s From the Collection series. In this series the tradition of the painter portraying his patron is updated, conceptualized and rendered in strong graphic form, becoming an alternative, knowing, but still respectful portrait of its owner. These works raise questions about the symbolic value of buying art, the self-aggrandizing of owning ‘a collection’, and the artistic motivation behind such a work’s creation.

Related works from the From the Collection series are on view at Witte de With.


The Artist Has To Live Like Everybody Else (c)
Billy Apple®, 1985
location: Opposite Centraal Station Rotterdam, on the corner of Weena and Kruisplein

From the Sculpture International Rotterdam Collection
Billy Apple®, 2009
location: On the corner of Schiedamse Vest and Schilderstraat, on the Herenplaats/MEE Rotterdam building



Supported By

Laan Irodjojo
Maarsen Groep
Mee Rotterdam
Joost ten Bruggencate and Jeroen Everaert from Mothership
Sculpture International Rotterdam
Creative New Zealand

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