About Alvin Baltrop

Alvin Baltrop (1948-2004) was born in the Bronx, New York, and spent most of his life living and working in New York City. From 1969 to 1972, he served in the Vietnam War and began photographing his comrades. Upon his return, he enrolled in the School of the Visual Arts in New York, where he studied from 1973 to 1975. After working various jobs ⁠— vendor, jewelry designer, printer ⁠— he settled on the banks of Manhattan's West Side, where he would produce the bulk of his photographic output.

Powerful, lyrical, and controversial, Alvin Baltrop's photographs are a groundbreaking exploration of clandestine gay culture in New York in the 1970s and 80s. His work is reflective of the grassroots passion and raw energy of New York City’s underground gay culture. Baltrop focused his lens on the derelict warehouses beneath Manhattan's West Side piers; which was a lawless, forgotten part of the city that played host to gay cruising, art making, drug smuggling, prostitution, and suicides. Baltrop documented this scene, unflinchingly and obsessively capturing everything from fleeting naked figures in mangled architectural environments to scenes of explicit sex and police raids on the piers. While the outside world saw New York as the glamorous playground of Studio 54, Warhol's gang and the disco era; Baltrop photographed the city's gritty flipside. His work is an important part of both gay culture and the history of New York itself, and his photographs are a powerful tribute to a long-forgotten world at the city's dilapidated margins.

For information, click on the links below


For exhibitors & research questions please contact:

Eva Mayhabal Davis, Archive Manager


3SSS & The Alvin Baltrop Trust

Backer has been involved with The Alvin Baltrop Trust since 2008. In 2011, she co-curated, Alvin Baltrop: Photographs 1965-2003, with Randall Wilcox, an artist, close friend of Baltrop, and executor of the Estate. Following the exhibition at Third Streaming, 3S designed a legacy-planning strategy for the Trust and began organizing the artist’s archive, which was donated to The Bronx Museum of the Arts in 2014. 3S placed Baltrop’s photographs in key private and public collections to establish a market for his work. Since 2016, we have partnered with Galerie Bucholz, who represents the Estate.


Upcoming Exhibitions


Glenn O’Brien: Center Stage

– Off Paradise

Exhibition dates September 17, 2019 to November 2, 2020

More information here.

Hubert Fichte: Love & Ethnology

Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), Berlin

Exhibition dates October 10, 2019 to January 6, 2020

More information here.

Souls Grown Diaspora

Apex, NYC

Curated by Sam Gordon

Exhibition dates from January 10 to March 7, 2020

More information here.


Current Exhibitions

Alvin Baltrop,  Untitled   (Portrait of Marsha P. Johnson) , n.d. Silver gelatin print. Private Collection

Alvin Baltrop, Untitled (Portrait of Marsha P. Johnson), n.d. Silver gelatin print. Private Collection


The Bronx Museum of Arts, NY

Exhibition dates August 7, 2019 to December 8, 2019

More information: Press Release

Press mentions in ArtNews, ArtForum, ArtNet News, Phaidon & ArtNet News must see list, Interview Magazine, ArtNet Editor’s Pick, Smithsonian, MentalFloss, 4Columns, The New York Times & THe NEW YORKER.


Art after Stonewall, 1969-1989

Grey Art Gallery, New York University (April 24 – July 20, 2019) & Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art (April 24 – July 21, 2019), The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum in Miami, Florida (September 14, 2019-January 6, 2020), & the Columbus Museum of Art (March 6-May 31, 2020).

Press mentions in Art Newspaper, and Bloomberg News


Past Exhibitions


God Made My Face: A Collective Portrait of James Baldwin

Exhibition dates January 10—February 16, 2019

Press mentions in the New York Times, Interview, The Paris Review, and VICE GARAGE

More information at David Zwirner


At the Hudson River Piers
selected by Douglas Crimp

Exhibition dates 29 June 2017 – 19 August 2017

Press: Village VoiceArtNewsArtforum, Photograph MagazineVice & Brooklyn Rail

More information at Galerie Buchholz



Recent publications and articles on Alvin Baltrop.


“Unbuilding Gender: Trans* Anarchitectures In and Beyond the Work of Gordon Matta-Clark”

October 2018, by Jack Halberstam

Full article here.


"21 Queer Photographers Illustrate What ‘Pride’ Really Means"

June 22, 2018 by by Stephanie Eckardt and Michael Beckert

Full article here

Gordon Matta-Clark: Anarchitect

Gordon Matta-Clark: Anarchitect

"Nothing Works Gordon Matta-Clark and the Problem of Architecture"

Gordon Matta-Clark: Anarchitect by Antonio Sergio Bessa, 2018.


"Photographers Who Have Captured LGBTQ Life in the African Diaspora"

August 16, 2017 by Yelena Keller

Full article here

Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility, Edited by Reina Gossett, Eric A. Stanley, and Johanna Burton. 2017.

Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility, Edited by Reina Gossett, Eric A. Stanley, and Johanna Burton. 2017.

"Out of Obscurity: Trans Resistance, 1969-2016

 Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility by Grace Dunham, 2017. 

A Journal of the Performing Arts Volume 20,  Issue 3: On Ruins and Ruination

A Journal of the Performing Arts Volume 20, Issue 3: On Ruins and Ruination

"Cruising the Queer Ruins of New York's Abandoned Waterfront"

A Journal of the Performing Arts, Issue 3: On Ruins and Ruination, by Fiona Anderson, 2015.

Read the article here.