Alvin Baltrop: A Queer, Black Photographer Refuses to be Forgotten

By Julianne Hing Mar 24, 2009

Head on over to to read Osa Atoe’s profile of Alvin Baltrop, an artist who also became a social historian with his photos of life in the 1970’s at the West Side Piers in New York City. Atoe traces Baltrop’s work and life and the intracacies of fame and forgetting. She investigates why a photographer of Baltrop’s caliber and sensitivity went unnoticed for so long. Writes Atoe:

"Al Baltrop endured constant racism from gay curators, gallery owners and other members of the ‘gay community’ until his death,” said [Randal] Wilcox. “Many of these people doubted that Baltrop shot his own photographs; some implied or directly told him that he stole the work of a white photographer. Other people who were willing to accept the photographs treated Al as though he was an idiot savant." … If Baltrop’s photographs had little value to those people during his life, why would they then begin to have value after his death? Why is a Black, poor, queer artist’s work only valuable after he is dead?

February marked the five-year anniversay of Baltrop’s passing. You can check out Baltrop’s work at the Bronx Museum as part of "Intersections: The Grand Concourse at 100" showing now through July 20, 2009.