Backyard Oasis: The Swimming Pool In Southern California, 1945 – 1982 Exhibition In The Palm Springs Art Museum From January 2012Lawrence Schiller, Marilyn Monroe, 1962/printed 2011, modern color silver halide chromogenic print from original negative , Courtesy of Judith and Lawrence Schiller; Lawrence Schiller © Polaris Communications, Inc.

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

Palm Springs, in the heart of Southern California, is well known for its abundance of shimmering blue swimming pools, which are just perfect for relaxing beside, floating upon or jumping into, when you need to cool off. Julius Shulman, Frank Sinatra House, Palm Springs, California, 1948, gelatin silver print, Collection Palm Springs Art Museum, purchase © J. Paul Getty Trust.

The perfect antidote to the desert sun, a dip in the pool has long been a favoured pastime in this sunshine state and in January 2012 Palm Springs Art Museum will showcase a retrospective snapshot of twentieth century pool life, offering visitors a chance to dive into its glamorous past.

The exhibition, “Backyard Oasis: The Swimming Pool in Southern California Photography, 1945-1982”, opens January 21st 2012 at the Palm Springs Art Museum and is due to run until May 27th 2012.

Featuring approximately 135 framed works of archival photography and significant exhibition prints, along with selected ephemera and film clips presented through DVDs on flat screen monitors, 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.

The exhibition includes works by David Hockney and Julius Shulman among others, and features icons of the silver screen, such as Rock Hudson; Richard Gere; Marilyn Monroe; Alan Ladd; Liberace; Esther Williams and Olivia de Havilland, often in private and candid moments – relaxing in their own “Backyard Oases”. Some of the images have an almost voyeuristic quality, whilst others are a snapshot of pure unadulterated fun, but all offer incredible insight into the playground of the rich and famous and the swimming pool’s place within the Southern California conscience.