Tuesday, January 26, 2016

What a concept

In April the next big show at Tate Britain focuses on conceptual art of the sixties and seventies. It should be the highlight of Billy Apple’s career as he was making conceptual art at the Royal Collage as early as 1960 (Body cleaning : extraction/subtraction) and changed his name to Billy Apple as an artwork in 1962. Although we don't yet have a complete list of the artists to be included in Conceptual art in Britain: 1964-1979, from the promotional material released so far, Apple is unlikely to be even included far less showcased. What does an artist have to do? Tate owns two conceptual pieces by Apple from the earliest days of conceptual art in Britain, both dated 1962. It might not happen often but maybe this is an artist who picked up on an idea too early! A frequent writer on Apple’s work once talked about, 'a general forgetfulness that dogs Apple’s career' but this time it feels like fate itself is against him. There is a small ray of hope, the exhibition’s research brief asked for, ‘analysis of the course of conceptual art in Britain from its genesis in the early and mid-1960s until the late 1970s’ so maybe the 'early' word will allow Apple to slip in. The possibility that Apple heading for New York (the center of contemporary art) in August 1964 might mean he forfeits his chance for the recognition he deserves as a pioneer conceptualist would be well beyond ironic. We’ll keep you posted

Images: conceptual art by Billy Apple in the Tate collection. Left Relation of Aesthetic Choice to Life Activity (Function) 1961–2  and right Self Portraits (Apple Sees Red on Green) 1962