“Alvin Baltrop”

“Alvin Baltrop (1948–2004), who sometimes lived in a van and supported himself by doing odd jobs, photographed a range of daily vignettes—among them leisurely sunbathing, sexual acts, and crime scenes—during New York City’s 1970s financial crisis and the LGBTQ community’s struggle for civil rights.”

Bronx Museum, New York. through February 9, 2020

Alvin Baltrop (1948–2004), who sometimes lived in a van and supported himself by doing odd jobs, photographed a range of daily vignettes—among them leisurely sunbathing, sexual acts, and crime scenes—during New York City’s 1970s financial crisis and the LGBTQ community’s struggle for civil rights. Baltrop began taking pictures at age seventeen and, in 1969, joined the US Navy, where he captured fellow sailors both clothed and nude. That experience later informed his documentation of underground gay culture along the West Side piers and an isolated section of the West Side Highway. Over 170 photographs, rarely shown during Baltrop’s lifetime, are on view in this exhibition, along with the artist’s personal memorabilia, from letters and family photos to graphic design work and posters.

Alvin Baltrop, The Piers (man wearing jockstrap), n.d. (1975-1986) silver gelatin print, 6 3/4 x 4 5/8 inches. Courtesy The Alvin Baltrop Trust, © 2010, Third Streaming, NY, and Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne/New York.