The Pool as a Cultural Icon

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Schiller pool

There is perhaps no more purely Southern California image than that of an idyllic suburban swimming pool. That image—and the cultural implications that came with it—is the focus of the exhibition Backyard Oasis: The Swimming Pool in Southern California Photography, 1945-1982 which recently opened at the Palm Springs Art Museum. Curator Daniell Cornell speaks about how these aquatic playgrounds became a defining element of the post-war era.

Shulman house

Julius Shulman, Frank Sinatra House, Palm Springs, California, 1948, gelatin silver print, Collection Palm Springs Art Museum, purchase © J. Paul Getty Trust. Used with permission. Julius Shulman Photography Archive, Research Library at the Getty Research Institute (2004.R.10)

Ritts gere

Herb Ritts, Richard Gere – Poolside, 1982, C-print, Courtesy of the Herb Ritts Foundation, Los Angeles © Herb Ritts Foundation

Top image: Lawrence Schiller, Palm Springs Fashion, No. 8, 1964/printed 2011, modern color silver halide chromogenic print from original negative, Courtesy of Judith and Lawrence Schiller; Lawrence Schiller © Polaris Communications, Inc.