rotterdam

Billy Apple

Witte de With

In 1962, the British rock ’n’ roll singer Billy Fury had a box-office hit with his film debut as struggling musician Billy Universe in Play It Cool. The same year, David Hockney caused a stir by wearing a rock-star-worthy gold lamé jacket onstage to receive the Royal College of Art’s Gold Medal. He had also come back to London from a trip to New York the previous year with bleached hair, citing a contemporary Clairol commercial to the effect that “blonds have more fun.” Later that year, in a moment immortalized by the photograph Billy Apple Bleaching with Lady Clairol Instant Crème Whip, November 1962, graduating Royal College student Barrie Bates re-created himself as “Billy Apple.”

In the first section of an incisive two-part solo exhibition on the New Zealand–based artist, curators Nicolaus Schafhausen and Zoë Gray traced what Apple himself has called “a history of the brand.” Early

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