Edited By Christopher Brown and Pam Hirsch
10 Filming the Splash: David Hockney’s Swimming Pools on Film
In 1964, shortly after his first solo exhibition at John Kasmin Gallery, David Hockney relocated to the United States. He moved first to New York and then to Los Angeles, where he started a series of paintings that represented a typically Californian theme, a swimming pool. He continued to paint this subject over the following decades, constantly reinterpreting it in different media and forms. In this essay, I will focus on the paintings of swimming pools that were created between 1964 and 1972 in Los Angeles and Southern France, and examine three films that represent very different cases of intermedial transcriptions of this work into cinema.
Californian scenery fascinated Hockney long before his first visit: ‘California in my mind was a sunny land of movie studios and beautiful semi-naked people’.1 His idea of the American Dream was strongly influenced by Bob Mizer’s beefcake photographs from the Physique Pictorial magazine. In the early 1960s Hockney began using images of nude or semi-naked men as a source of inspiration for his works. One of the best examples of Mizer’s influence is the 1963 painting that represents two men in a shower entitled Domestic Scene – Los Angeles. The picture was conceived before he moved to California and was based on a picture from Mizer’s magazine.
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