NEW YORK | until Feb 09, 2020

The Bronx Museum of the Arts

The Life and Times of Alvin Baltrop

A quiet man who supported himself doing odd jobs such as street vendor, jewelry designer, photography printer, and cab driver, Bronx native Alvin Baltrop left an important body of work after his untimely death in 2004 that only now is garnering the serious attention it deserves.

Like the startling images of Peter Moore, Robert Mapplethorpe, Peter Hujar, and Gordon Matta-Clark, the photographs of Alvin Baltrop memorialize New York City at a breaking-point moment amid ruin and chaos.

The exhibition features over 200 photographs drawn from the Bronx Museum’s permanent collection and from private collections. In addition, the artist’s personal archive, housed at the Bronx Museum, will be shown to the public for the first time.

The Life and Times of Alvin Baltrop is presented in collaboration with The Alvin Baltrop Trust, managed by Third Streaming, LLC and Galerie Buchholz; in conjunction with Stonewall 50 Consortium. Support for this exhibition has been generously provided by The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, Inc., and the Director’s Circle, the Bronx Museum’s premier support group.


Alvin Jerome Baltrop was born December 11, 1948, to Dorothy Mae Baltrop shortly after she had moved from Virginia to the Bronx with her eldest son James. He began photographing with a twin-lens Yashica camera in his early teens. Baltrop joined the US Navy in 1969 and served in Vietnam, where he photographed fellow sailors doing chores or at leisure. He received an honorable discharge in 1972, and went on to attend New York City’s School of Visual Arts from 1973 to 1975.

It was during that period that Baltrop started documenting the gay communities in the West Village area and along the piers. Late during the 1990s, artist John Drury nominated Baltrop for a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award. Baltrop had few exhibitions in his lifetime, and his work only gained critical recognition after his death, particularly after art critic Douglas Crimp published an article about his work for Artforum in 2008.