January 11 – March 2, 2024

Opening reception:
Thursday, January 11, 2024
6 – 8 PM

CLAMP is pleased to present “To Swallow a Photo of Him,” an exhibition of photographs by Bill Costa (1944-1995).

Bill Costa aimed to capture the sensuality of the male form in stark juxtaposition to dilapidated settings.
By populating forgotten spaces with vigorous young men, Costa created a garden of male forms growing out of peeling paint and rotting brick.

New York was falling apart around Costa, who moved to the city at the peak of the 1970s financial crisis and lived until the apex of the AIDS epidemic in the 1990s. Costa saw friends waste away, much like the buildings and landscapes he selected in order to highlight the life force of these young men. To think that many of these models, photographed in their prime, would meet the same fate as such surroundings, adds a poignant and important layer through which to engage with Costa’s artistic output.

In 1987, for inclusion in a catalogue to coincide with his exhibition at Atheneum in Dijon, France, Costa wrote the following:

I am also interested in the patina of life, the change due to age.
I find beauty in the peeling paint of old walls and doors
and the decay of old wood.
I feel comfortable in a place that everyone else has abandoned.
Where other people see the tragedy of decay, I see the beauty of life.

Bill Costa was born in Fall River, Massachusetts, and raised in Gloucester, Massachusetts—an important fishing port and artist colony. He showed artistic promise at an early age and studied drawing with a local artist, going on to the School of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. He turned to photography after leaving a successful corporate career and had his first show in New York City in 1975. Costa’s photographs have been featured in many monographs, catalogues, and magazines, and numerous exhibitions have been mounted across the United States and Europe.

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