RADAR

From Holiday to Horror: the Art of the Swimming Pool

With BOZAR hosting Brussels’ biggest (and only) open air swimming pool this summer, time to have a look at some of the most famous swimming pools in art and cinema. 

 

1. Underwater swimmer, André Kertész (1917)

This iconic image is exactly 100 years old this year. There’s quite a bit of aquatic action in the Hungarian’s work, because Kertesz loved to photograph his brother Leo, who was a keen swimmer and diver.

© Museum Ludwig – Sammlung Gruber
© Museum Ludwig – Sammlung Gruber

 

2. A Bigger Splash, Luca Guadagnino (2016) 

Notice any similiarities? A still from Luca Guadagnino’s A Bigger Splash, which centers on the tensions between rock star Tilda Swinton, her new lover Matthias Schoenaerts, her ex Ralph Fiennes, and his daughter Dakota Johnson, while holidaying on a blazingly hot Italian island. Fiennes’ dad dance around the pool is probably the highlight of the film.

© Fox Searchlight Pictures
© Fox Searchlight Pictures

 

3. A Bigger Splash, David Hockney (1967)

A Bigger Splash refers of course to the most famous painting of British born, LA-loving artist David Hockney. But it’s only one in a long list of swimming pool based works, in different media. ‘It’s a wonderful subject, water, the light on the water… everytime you look at the surface, you look through it, you look under it. It dawned on me that the swimming pool was a much more interesting subject.’

Hockney also painted in pools, completing an underwater mural on the bottom of the swimming pool at the infamous Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood.
Hockney also painted in pools, completing an underwater mural on the bottom of the swimming pool at the infamous Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood.

 

4. Sunset Boulevard, Billy Wilder (1950)

One of the most famous opening scenes in movie history starts in a pool. There’s a dead man floating in it. And he’s talking to us.

Sunset Boulevard, Billy Wilder, 1950
Sunset Boulevard, Billy Wilder, 1950

 

5. Swimming Pool, Leandro Erlich (2008)

This delightful, clever installation by Argentian artist Leandro Erlich is a worldwide hit. Visitors can wander around on the bottom of a swimming pool – with a thin sheet of water above their heads, giving the impression they’re walking underwater.

Leandro Erlich, Image © Loedja Biskup
Leandro Erlich, Image © Loedja Biskup

 

6. Cat People, Jacques Tourneur (1942)

The mother of all creepy pool scenes. And a reminder to always put your clothes in a secure locker. Paul Schrader did a remake in 1982, but swimming in black and white is always a touch more sinister.

Cat people, Jacques Tourneur (1942)
Cat people, Jacques Tourneur (1942)

 

7. La piscine, Henri Matisse (1952)

An old man is sitting in the shade, watching the swimmers tumble about in the pool of the Eden Roc Hotel, at Antibes. Back home, he cuts out shapes from blue crepe paper and pins them to the wall. It will be one of his very last masterpieces.

Matisse - La piscine (1952)
Matisse - La piscine (1952)

 

8. La piscine, Jacques Deray (1969)

Let’s be perfectly honest: this, like a long afternoon spent baking beside the pool, can be a bit boring. But there’s something fascinating about spending two hours trying to decide who is more attractive, Romy Schneider or Alain Delon.

At Cinematek on 31.08 at 21:00.

La Piscine, Jacques Deray (1969)
La Piscine, Jacques Deray (1969)

 

9. Dido & Aeneas, Sasha Waltz & Guests (2005)

A pool on stage!? German choreographer Sasha Waltz used one to stunning effect in her version of Purcell’s Dido & Aeneas. When the first dancer dives into the water, his hands hitting the water as the very first note of the ouverture sounds, the audience gasps.

© Sebastian Bolesch
© Sebastian Bolesch

 

10. Stranger Things (2016)

Mafia boss Tony Soprano had many an existential episode at his Jersey pool, but Barb became Queen of the TV Swimming Pool when she mysteriously disappeared in one in Netflix’s Stranger Things and sent the internet into an absolute frenzy.

© Netflix
© Netflix