The Life and Times of Alvin Baltrop @ The Bronx Museum
7 August 2019 to 9 February 2020
Unknown and undermentioned by the art world, Alvin Baltrop was an American photographer who documented the west side piers — where the Whitney museum stands today. Born in the Bronx, Baltrop joined the Navy in 1969 at the age of 21. He was a navy medic during the Vietnam war and it was during those years he made his early photographs; portraits of sailors, ships, and erotic images of sleeping men. After returning to New York, he worked as a street vendor, cab driver, quit, then settled on living in his van and taking pictures full time capturing New Yorkers, daily life, graffiti, men, and crime scenes.
There is a familiarity and warmth in Baltrop’s snapshots. He personally knew most of his subjects. Life at the piers was an everyday thing. His photographs show early seventies into late eighties New York and its underground gay subculture before the AIDS epidemic hit. An underappreciated marvel who was passionate and diligent about taking photographs, a portion of the prints in the first ever retrospective of his photography are originals by Baltrop himself.
He died February 1, 2004 at the age of 55.
1040 Grand Concourse
Bronx, New York 10456