The Swimming Pool in Photography: A photographic leap into cooling waters

UNITED STATES - Circa 1950s: Woman Sun Bathing On Green Mat By Edge Side Of Pool Water Recline Holding Beach Ball By Her Side Relax. © H. Armstrong Roberts / Getty Images

Nearly every child loves a swimming pool. No hotel without an artificial basin, no summer holiday without a dip in the refreshing water. Yet, the swimming pool is so much more than just a pool full of cool water. It is a mythological place, a place for stories and sports, the source of the carefree afternoon. It came 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. 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."

Thus writes the cultural studies professor Francis Hodgson in the foreword to a new book entitled The Swimming Pool in Photography, underscoring the role of the swimming pool as a showplace for variety. In more than two hundred colour and black-and-white photographs, this illustrated volume presents a comprehensive, varied piece of cultural history, while recording it at the same time.

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, you can enjoy immersing yourself in the destinations we long for on hot days. Featuring works 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 many others.

The Swimming Pool in Photography is published by Hatje Cantz and priced at €40.

Sun Bath At Deligny Pool In Paris (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

Sun Bath At Deligny Pool In Paris (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

Diego Opazo House on the cliff ©_Architecture- FRAN SILVESTRE ARQUITECTOS

Diego Opazo House on the cliff ©_Architecture- FRAN SILVESTRE ARQUITECTOS

4th May 1961: A submerged car which its drunken owner 'parked' in a swimming pool in Beverly Hills, California, believing it to be a parking space. Nobody was injured in the process. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

4th May 1961: A submerged car which its drunken owner 'parked' in a swimming pool in Beverly Hills, California, believing it to be a parking space. Nobody was injured in the process. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Dudley Williams of Denver and her son, Dag, get a dip that is both warm and briskly chilling in a hotel pool in Vail, Colorado. The pool is toasty warm; the surrounding air temperature is well below freezing. Vail, a town in Eagle County's Vail Pass, did not exist until four years after the founding of the Vail Ski Resort in 1962. As of 2015, Vail Mountain, just 1.5 hours from Denver, was Colorado's largest ski mountain. [Note to researchers: Dudley is the correct name of the mom.] ©Library of congress

Dudley Williams of Denver and her son, Dag, get a dip that is both warm and briskly chilling in a hotel pool in Vail, Colorado. The pool is toasty warm; the surrounding air temperature is well below freezing. Vail, a town in Eagle County's Vail Pass, did not exist until four years after the founding of the Vail Ski Resort in 1962. As of 2015, Vail Mountain, just 1.5 hours from Denver, was Colorado's largest ski mountain. [Note to researchers: Dudley is the correct name of the mom.] ©Library of congress

© Library of congress Washington, D.C. Mount Vernon Seminary - girls in swimming pool Contributor Names Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer Created / Published [between 1890 and 1950]

© Library of congress Washington, D.C. Mount Vernon Seminary - girls in swimming pool Contributor Names Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer Created / Published [between 1890 and 1950]

Corbusier Pool Building ©Pixabay

Corbusier Pool Building ©Pixabay

Winner Of Female Diving Contest Blandine Fagedet At the Swimming Pool Georges Vallerey In Paris, France, on July 13, 1962. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Winner Of Female Diving Contest Blandine Fagedet At the Swimming Pool Georges Vallerey In Paris, France, on July 13, 1962. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)