Billy Apple, ‘giant of New Zealand art’, has died

The creative community in Aotearoa is mourning the loss of one of New Zealand’s most influential artists.

Billy Apple ONZM, 85, has died overnight.

His work was associated with New York and British pop art in the 1960s, collaborating with the likes of Andy Warhol and other pop artists.

Born Barrie Bates in Auckland in 1935, he changed his name to Billy Apple in 1962.

Te Papa’s chief executive Courtney Johnston shared a tribute to the artist on Twitter, writing, “Saddened to hear that artist Billy Apple died early this morning.

“Moe mai rā e Billy – my thoughts are with Mary and all Billy’s friends and family who are facing his loss during lockdown.”

Apple recently had a major retrospective exhibition at the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, where his work is part of the permanent collection.

A book on his life and work written by Christina Barton was published in November 2020 by Auckland University Press.

With Auckland at alert level 4, a funeral won’t be able to go ahead until the city moves to level 3.

Ten people are permitted to gather for a funeral or tangihanga at alert level 3. It’s presumed a memorial will be held for Apple in due course.

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