Backyard Oasis: The Swimming Pool in Southern California Photography, 1945-1982

Backyard Oasis: The Swimming Pool in Southern California Photography, 1945-1982
Palm Springs Art Museum. Prestel Publishing. [Palm Springs, CA] USA
Cover book
In these days of high temperatures, over 40 degrees in the shade, we found Backyard Oasis: a book that dives us into a Southern California icon: the swimming pools. Taken from object of desire to disillusionment, the book shows its wide range of users: from celebrities to the middle class.

Backyard Oasis examines swimming pools in photographs from 1945 to 1982 as visual analogs of the ideals and expectations associated with Southern California. These images of individual water-based environs in the arid landscape are an integral part of the region’s identity, a microcosm of the hopes and disillusionments of the country’s post-World War II ethos. As a private setting, the backyard pool became a stage for sub-culture rituals and clandestine desires. As a medium, photography became the primary vehicle for embodying the polar emotions of consumer optimism and Cold War fears. Crossing the boundaries of popular and high culture, commercial merchandising, journalistic reporting, and vernacular memorabilia, photography conveyed the developing ideologies of the period. As such, its visual language forms a network of discursive topics that open onto each other, offering a rich study of physical and cultural geography. For the first time, this exhibition, its catalogue, and attendant programs trace the integrated histories of photography and the iconography of the swimming pool, bringing new light to aspects of this complex interaction.

This exhibition catalog celebrates the nexus of these two phenomena in a one-of-a-kind collection that features more than two hundred works by more than more

Bill Anderson, Raymond Loewy House, Palm Springs, California, ca. 1950’s, collec