INTERVIEW : MICHAEL CHILDERS
Legendary photographer Michael Childers’ lens has captured some of the art world’s most iconic figures for a handful of decades. His work is featured in Backyard Oasis: The Swimming Pool in Southern California Photography, 1945-1982 at the Palm Springs Art Museum through May 27, and we were able to catch a few words with him about his focus on California swimming pools and water culture, and his portrait of painter David Hockney.
Stay tuned for upcoming interviews with exhibition essayist Tyler Stallings and curator Daniell Cornell, and stop by to see the show if you’re in town.
Is the inspiration to photograph in and around swimming pools more metaphorical or physical?
It is physical. It’s about the shade of the blue. It’s about the sunlight reflecting off of it. It’s about the movement of the water. It’s about reflected light. It’s about the bodies in it. It’s about eroticism. It’s about graceful movement, above and under water.
What about this setting distinguishes it from other staged settings, and how does this affect your work and process?
Having lived in California since the early 60’s, swimming pools and oceans have always been an important part of my life. And living in Palm Springs. It is eternal. It is there twentyfour hours a day. Beautiful on a starry night. Translucent during the early morning sun.
Your 1978 photograph “The Hockney Swimmer” is the featured and cover image for Backyard Oasis at the Palm Springs Art Museum. Can you tell me a bit about your iconic portrait of David Hockney (above)?
“David Hockney at Rising Glen” was inspired by one of my favorite photographs taken by Lartigue of his nephew Zazou floating in a raft in a pool in 1911.