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Lost Boys: Amos Badertscher’s Baltimore


August 30, 2023 - December 15, 2023

Location: Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery

Complex black and white photograph depicting a man, Frank, born in 1955 and died of AIDS in 1992

Note: We regret that the Library Gallery will be closed on Saturday, October 28 because of roof repairs to the building.

Lost Boys: Amos Badertscher’s Baltimore is the first career retrospective of artist Amos Badertscher in the United States. Between the 1960s and 2005, Badertscher documented hustlers, club kids, go-go dancers, drag queens, drug addicts, friends, and lovers who were part of LGBTQ+ life in Baltimore. A self-taught photographer, Badertscher (American, 1936–2023) worked on the fringes of the polite society into which he was born as an upper-middle class white Baltimorean. “Breaking all the rules of documentary photography,” as he stated, he developed a signature style of spare portraits staged in his home studio.

Taking his camera into the city’s clubs and gay bars, Badertscher recorded the shifting geographies and personalities of queer Baltimore pre-Stonewall and through the height of the AIDS epidemic. In the early 2000s, he captured the urban decay, economic devastation, and rampant drug use of sex workers in the city’s post-industrial landscape, in a body of work foregrounding aspects of Baltimore’s queer history that have rarely been acknowledged. Badertscher returned repeatedly to his personal photographic archive, inscribing his prints with handwritten notes on his subjects’ personal histories, filtered through his own recollections. This exhibition explores the power dynamics and desires embedded in his photographs, which memorialize people often marginalized by society.

The exhibition is curated by Beth Saunders, Curator and Head of Special Collections & Gallery at the Albin O. Kuhn Library & Gallery with contributions from consulting curators Hunter O’Hanian (independent curator) and Jonathan Katz (University of Pennsylvania).

Advisory: This exhibition contains images of full frontal nudity, sexual content, and drug use.

For additional information, please visit the Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery.

Public Program

On Thursday, September 28 at 5 p.m., join us for a panel discussion, LGBTQ+ Oral Histories: Ethics and Practice. The discussion will feature Kate Drabinski (UMBC), Joseph Plaster (Johns Hopkins University), Hunter O’Hanian (independent scholar and curator), and students of the 2023 Interdisciplinary CoLab, “LGBTQ+ Oral History Project.” For complete information, please visit here.

Visitor Information

Admission is free. For complete driving and parking information, please visit here.

Library Gallery hours:
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Thursday: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Note: We regret that the Library Gallery will be closed on Saturday, October 28 because of roof repairs to the building.

Media Coverage

New York Times — Amos Badertscher, Who Documented a Sexual Underground, Dies at 86 — August 9
AnOther Magazine — August 30
ArtDaily — August 30
Photo.com — August 30
WYPR’s Sheilah Kast talks with curator Beth Saunders — September 6

Header image: Amos Badertscher, Voice Wafers in Time #1, 1975. Courtesy of the Artist. © Estate of Amos Badertscher



August 30, 2023
December 15, 2023
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