If the house is a machine for living, as Le Corbusier famously said, then the pool is the hedonistic machine for pleasure. And no artist captured the thrill of the quick plunge, or leisurely submersion, quite like David Hockney.
Though born in Yorkshire, England—which has to be one of the least sunny places in the world—Hockney was an apt renderer of the swimming pool and the architecture surrounding it. The artist began painting them during his first trip to Los Angeles in 1964, and the resulting vibrant, almost abstract, planes of color captured the clean lines, flat surfaces, and the openness to the natural environment of California Modernism.
"A Bigger Splash," 1967
Hockney also painted in pools, completing an underwater mural on the bottom of the swimming pool at the infamous Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood. With its simple motif of half ellipses, the mural riffs on Hockney's technique of depicting water in his artwork. The resulting work is a sublime and subtle decoration in an establishment known for decadent parties and celebrities.
As we enjoy the last days of summer, we thought we'd round up a few of our favorite Hockney pool paintings, which not only capture the delirious hedonism of 60s Southern California, but also its sublime architecture. Dive in!
"Sun on the Pool" 1982
"Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)" 1972
"Portrait of Nick Wilder" 1966
“Lithograph of Water Made of Thick and Thin Lines and a Light Blue Wash and a Dark Blue Wash” 1978 via lamodern.com
"California Copied from 1965 Painting in 1987" 1987
"Pool and Steps" 1971