overview

In the latter half of the 20th century, before gentrification, downtown Manhattan was a place where young and emerging artists could afford to live and create.

From the 1960s to the 1980s, in particular, a number of residences and studios there were associated with a network of gay visual artists who often drew inspiration from each other and the neighborhoods in which they lived.

This curated collection features their apartments and workspaces, the pioneering Leslie-Lohman Gallery, and the west side waterfront, where the then-abandoned piers served as a canvas for many gay artists.

Header Photo caption

“‘Gagging Cow’ by David Wojnarowicz on Wall of Abandoned Pier” (1983), with Wojnarowicz in foreground. Photo by Peter Hujar. © 1987 The Peter Hujar Archive LLC. Courtesy of Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco.

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Featured Historic Sites (13)

A
89 East 2nd Street
The gay, African American photographer Alvin Baltrop captured the unfolding LGBT life at the West Side piers and elsewhere in New York after the 1969 Stonewall uprising, though his captivating... Learn More
B
Christopher Street Pier
For over a century, the Greenwich Village waterfront along the Hudson River, including the Christopher Street Pier at West 10th and West Streets, has been a destination for the LGBT... Learn More
C
324 East 14th Street
From 1974 to 1985, prolific playwright, director, performer, poet, and Warhol Superstar, Jackie Curtis, resided in the second floor, front apartment of this building. While here, he continued to write... Learn More
D
225 East Houston Street
Jasper Johns, who had his home and studio in this building from 1967 to 1987, was famed for his paintings of targets, flags, numbers, and other vernacular forms, and is... Learn More
E
676 Broadway
The artist Keith Haring worked in a fifth-floor studio in this building from 1985 to 1990, the last five years of his life before dying of AIDS. In this time... Learn More
F
127B Prince Street
The Leslie-Lohman Gallery, the precursor to the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, opened at this SoHo location in 1987 to exhibit and promote the work of LGBT artists.... Learn More
G
141 Ridge Street
Martin Wong was a Chinese-American artist and influential figure in the 1980s and early 1990s downtown arts scene. While living in this Lower East Side tenement building, from 1982 to... Learn More
H
254 East 3rd Street
Paul Thek, who lived and worked at 254 East 3rd Street in at least the late 1960s, was a visual artist and one of the first to create installation art.... Learn More
I
181-189 Second Avenue
Photographer Peter Hujar was barely recognized in his lifetime but, since his death due to AIDS-related pneumonia in 1987, he has come to be regarded as one of the greatest... Learn More
J
2 Spring Street
Robert Indiana, a pioneering Pop artist whose gay identity was often obliquely expressed in his paintings, sculptures, and prints, lived and worked on all five floors of the former industrial... Learn More
K
24 Bond Street
Robert Mapplethorpe was one of the most influential and controversial photographers of the 20th century, known as much for his unflinching depictions of gay sado-masochistic sex as the outrage they... Learn More
L
381 Lafayette Street
Considered one of the most important artists to emerge after World War II, Robert Rauschenberg was a pioneering American artist known for his radical, collaborative, and multidisciplinary approach to making... Learn More
M
1 Fifth Avenue
As an art curator and collector, Sam Wagstaff almost single handedly drove the market in the acquisition of photographs by private collectors, art galleries and museums in the 1970s and... Learn More