Born in 1936, Amos Badertscher was a lifelong resident of Baltimore and was known for his poignant portraits of people he met on the streets and in the nightclubs of his beloved city.
Developing and printing his work at home, Badertscher took extensive oral histories from his photographic subjects, and using his literary skills wrote their histories on the margins of the gelatin silver prints he created.
Queer art historian and curator Jonathan David Katz said: “With the death of Amos Badertscher, America has lost one of its greatest photographers. Walking into Amos’s Baltimore home was as close as I can imagine to seeing King Tut’s tomb for the first time. There were thousands of amazing photographs, each unforgettable and unprecedented. The first thing you saw was their formal sophistication and otherworldly beauty but then the emotional arc hit you like a ton of bricks. This was a history I never knew but can now never shake.”
Artforum wrote of Badertscher’s first major exhibition at the Duke University Museum of Art in 1995: “It’s the tonal coldness of these images, coupled with their outward eroticism, that distinguishes his practice from much of contemporary queer portrait photography, which has tended to be more invested in defiant heroism or lyrical sensuousness.”