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Pools in Pictures

The swimming pool is a piece of cultural history. For more than five thousand years people have been drawn to artificially enclosed, cool H2O. The Swimming Pool in Photography, published by Hatje Cantz, is dedicated to the last century’s bathing culture and life on the pool deck.

The swimming pool is a mythological place, a place for stories and sports, the source of a carefree afternoon. It has come to embody luxury and sophistication, and has been a setting for films, an architectural object, and a study in design.

“The swimming pool has been at different times and places suburban, exotic, utterly private, boisterously public, a threat or a blessing,” writes the cultural studies professor Francis Hodgson in the foreword to The Swimming Pool in Photography. “It is, quite obviously, capable of every kind of symbolism from the crude assertion of financial status to an almost mystical fluidity of meanings that neatly complements the great puddle of chlorinated water that it holds.”

In more than 200 color and black-and-white photographs, the book presents a comprehensive piece of cultural history from the Art Nouveau-style bathing houses at the turn of the last century, to the history behind the design of American pools in the 1950s, to the basins that were repurposed as skate parks in California in the 1970s.

The Swimming Pool in Photography features photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Gigi Cifali, Stuart Franklin, Harry Gruyaert, Emma Hartvig, Jacques Henri Lartigue, Joel Meyerowitz, Martin Parr, Paolo Pellegrin, Mack Sennett, Alec Soth, Larry Sultan, Alex Webb, and others.

The Swimming Pool in Photography
Hatje Cantz
Text by Francis Hodgson

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