Wet and Wild
The Chlorinated Water and Scantily Clad Bodies of Backyard Oasis: The Swimming Pool in Southern California Photography 1945-1982
No dream of Southern California is complete without a swimming pool. What started as a totem of status and privacy became, in the postwar years, an affordable luxury for middle-class families who wanted a taste of the celebrity lifestyle. Even the empty pool came to take on meaning: a project just begun, or a home abandoned.
The pool is also a shape-shifter: a reflection of whatever the viewer wishes to see. The iconic images in Backyard Oasis: The Swimming Pool in Southern California Photography 1945-1982 show us what some of the great photographers and artists of postwar America discovered in these watery indulgences.
*Photo credits (in order of slideshow): Collection Palm Springs Art Museum, gift of Dorothy Anderson © Palm Springs Art Museum; Courtesy of the Herb Ritts Foundation, Los Angeles © Herb Ritts Foundation; Collection Palm Springs Art Museum, gift of the artist © Michael Childers; Courtesy of PDNB Gallery, Dallas, TX © Bill Owens; Estate of Mel Roberts © Michael H. Epstein & Scott E. Schwimer; Courtesy of Loretta Ayeroff © 1974 Loretta Ayeroff; Collection of David Hockney © David Hockney; photo credit Richard Schmidt.