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9 Swimming Pools

Beat the heat wave with these scenes of poolside splendor.

Slim Aarons, A poolside party at a desert house, Palm Springs, 1970
© the artist/Getty Images

Slim Aarons

A former army photographer, Slim Aarons came back from the front lines with a mantra: to photograph “attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places.” True to his word, Aarons’s scenes show tony sunbathers dotting sublime landscapes from Palm Springs to Marbella.

Nan Goldin, Simon and Jessica kissing in the pool, Avignon, 2001
© the artist and courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery, New York and Los Angeles

Nan Goldin

In the early 2000s, Nan Goldin traveled to Europe, where she photographed couples making love. Heartbeat, the resulting slideshow, features 245 images—all in her intimate, signature style.

Jodi Bieber, Orlando West Swimming Pool, Orlando West, Soweto, December 19, 2009, from the book Soweto
Courtesy the artist

Jodi Bieber

Soweto, a township of Johannesburg, is often defined by its shantytown origins and as a site of resistance to apartheid. But South African photographer Jodi Bieber adds nuance to these views with her dynamic portrayal of daily life and leisure, such as this bathing beauty caught in the chaos of a crowded pool.

Martine Franck, Pool designed by Alain Capeilleres, Town of Le Brusc, France, 1976
© the artist/Magnum Photos

Martine Franck        

This iconic photograph departs from Martine Franck’s primary pursuit of humanitarian reportage. Her dexterity with form, composition, and shadow is immortalized in a moment of summer bliss.

Larry Sultan, Untitled, 1982, from the series Swimmers, 1978–82
© the artist and courtesy the Estate of Larry Sultan and Casemore Kirkeby, San Francisco

Larry Sultan

“Between 1978 and 1982 I photographed people learning to swim in several pools in San Francisco. I was interested in making pictures that were excessively physical, sensual, and painterly,” said Larry Sultan. Unlike the composed work Sultan is best known for, these snapshots invite the viewer to jump on in.

René Burri, Stable, horse pool and house planned by Luis Barragan and Andres Casillas, Mexico City, 1976
© the artist/Magnum Photos

René Burri 

Throughout the 1960s and ’70s, René Burri visited his friend and Pritzker prize winner Luis Barragán several times, often photographing the architect’s buildings and gardens, including his home. The resulting photographs are an ode to Barragán’s keen sense of shape, depth, color, and beauty.

Martin Parr, The Artificial Beach inside the Ocean Dome, Miyazaki, Japan, 1996, from the series Small World, 1996
© the artist/Magnum Photos

Martin Parr

Martin Parr, famous for his satirical photographs of tourists, fully embraces the cliché of the overcrowded beachfront in Ocean Dome. The indoor pool comically masquerades as a natural body of water, as the horizon line smashes up against the far wall, painted to look like the sky.

Deanna Templeton, Ed, 2008
© the artist and courtesy Gallery Fifty One

Deanna Templeton

For eight summers, Deanna Templeton photographed her friends skinny-dipping in her pool, beginning with this image of her husband, Ed. The photograph is a graceful testament to summer and the nude form.

Hannah Starkey, Untitled, September 2006
Courtesy of the artist; Maureen Paley, London; and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York and Los

Hannah Starkey

Hannah Starkey has been making singular, large-scale photographs of women throughout her career. In this scene, at once peaceful and full of anticipation, the central figure is an icon of beauty and desire.

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