Backyard Oasis by Robert Atkins
The Swimming Pool in Southern California Photography, 1945-1982

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Like a dip in poorly heated “individual water-based environs,” the racier images can be numbing...
-NY Times

Synopsis

Southern California's pool culture is the subject of this unique and luscious collection of photographs that explore the parallel evolution of an iconic symbol and an artistic genre. Since the end of World War II, Southern California's backyard pools-those blue-green oases in an otherwise often arid landscape-have symbolized any number of American ideals: optimism, wealth, consumerism, escape, physical beauty, and the triumph of man over nature. Simultaneously, the field of photography developed as a transformative method for recording the human condition. 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 forty postwar artists and photographers. It presents works by photographers and artists including Bill Anderson, John Baldessari, Ruth Bernhard, David Hockney, Herb Ritts, Ed Ruscha, Julius Shulman, and Larry Sultan. Thematically grouped into topics ranging from the rise of celebrity culture, suburbia and dystopia, avant-garde architectural landscape design, and the cult of the body, these images offer a reich study of the cultural connotations of the swimming pool. six insightful essays provide a comprehensive overview of the development of the swimming pool and its attendant aesthetic and social culture.
 

About Robert Atkins

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Daniell Cornell is Curator and Director of Contemporary Art Daniell Cornell is Curator and Director of Contemporary Art Projects at the deYoung Museum. Projects at the deYoung Museum. Bob Atkins is the pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in Naperville, Illinois. His PhD in Biblical Studies is from the joint program of Garrett-Evangelical Seminary and Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Atkins is active in scholarly societies, cochairing the Men's Studies in Religion Group of the American Academy of Religion, and, most recently, presenting a paper on "Contextual Reading of Philemon" at the third meeting of the International Colloquium on the New Testament in South Africa.
 
Published January 11, 2012 by Prestel USA. 256 pages
Genres: Arts & Photography. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Backyard Oasis
All: 2 | Positive: 0 | Negative: 2

NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Alexandra Jacobs on Jun 01 2012

Like a dip in poorly heated “individual water-based environs,” the racier images can be numbing...

Read Full Review of Backyard Oasis: The Swimming ... | See more reviews from NY Times

LA Times

Above average
Reviewed by Christopher Knight on Feb 13 2012

It fudges a bit by including a few seashore pictures...

Read Full Review of Backyard Oasis: The Swimming ... | See more reviews from LA Times

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