Alvin Baltrop’s photographs of the derelict piers beyond the West Side Highway in Chelsea and of the bodies of the men who cruised the dilapidated architecture for sex and other forms of illicit intimacy during the 1970s and ’80s were rarely exhibited during his lifetime. Over the past decade, thanks in part to the work of art historian and curator Douglas Crimp, who has included the artist in several exhibitions and wrote an essay on Baltrop’s photographs for this magazine in 2008, more attention has been paid to the photographer’s formal, graceful images, which were assembled by Crimp for an overdue New York solo exhibition at Galerie Buchholz this summer.
The piers photographs (all works 1975–86), which formed the core of the exhibition, are themselves languidly ripe and summery, featuring many hot bodies basking in the sun. Couples fucking are captured from a distance and catch
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