Despite their relatively small scale, the pieces for the Leo Castelli Gallery were a breakthrough. Ever since he moved to New York in 1964 Apple had hoped to exhibit in the city’s most prestigious gallery. It was not a case of Castelli inviting Apple to join his stable; rather, as was the dealer’s style, he allowed the artist to make small interventions in his space in response to Apple’s repeated proposals. These reveal the nature of Apple’s practice at this time and the difference between what was possible for him in New Zealand as compared to New York City. Not only subtle examples of his site-related installation practice, they were also surreptitiously pointed analyses of the power dynamics of New York’s gallery scene. They are the outcome of an intensive period of self-scrutiny in which the artist theorised his practice through analysis of the work of other artists, notably Michael Asher, Daniel Buren, Robert Irwin and Sol LeWitt; and careful reading of key texts such as Brian O’Doherty’s three seminal essays, ‘Inside the White Cube’, published in Artforum in 1976, and several books on psychology.

+ Christina Barton, Billy Apple: Life/Work, page 209.