The Weight of Water

In preparation for a new series of landscape/seascape paintings, I've been on the hunt for interesting and contemporary art pieces about water. While I've been finding some inspiration via VSCO & Instagram, I've also been looking back through the work of some of my favorite all-time conceptual artists who have worked with water or represented water. I thought I'd share these cool, collected, and refreshing pieces of water art.

Cai Guo-Qiang via the  Queensland Art Gallery

Cai Guo-Qiang via the Queensland Art Gallery


In Heritage, Cai Guo-Qiang installs 99 animal replicas of different species, to create an idyllic drinking hole. It's as though he's transposing 3 disparate spaces onto one another. The animals' muddy water and grassland is exchanged for the crystal blue pool and white sand of a human paradise, and then it's all encompassed within a bizarre industrial gallery space with laboratory-like lighting.

Edward Ruscha  via Art Gallery NSW

Edward Ruscha via Art Gallery NSW

This piece is from Ed Ruscha's 1978 documentary-style artist book Nine Swimming Pools. The book features the photographs of the nine Southern Californian pools, each one a pleasant yet sterile combination of gray cement & blue water.

Viggo Mortensen  via Perceval Press

Viggo Mortensen via Perceval Press


Similar to the Ruscha piece, this photo is from a book of photography, A Hole in the Sun, by Viggo Mortensen. The scratched, hazy, ethereal medium format photographs all documenting one summer when the Mortensen family had their backyard swimming pool drained.

Of course I had to include Damien Hirst's The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living. Hirst obscures the reality of a dead shark in a formaldehyde bath by tinting the formaldehyde a calming blue, suspending the shark as though it was simply swimming, and encasing it in a pristine white and glass case. 

Leandro Erlich  via DesignRulz

Leandro Erlich via DesignRulz

I first saw a Leandro Erlich swimming pool at PS1 in New York. By using floating a thin layer of water on top of a piece of plexiglass Erlich, creates an awesome interactive installation can be viewed from above and below. When you view it from above you see fully clothed gallery-goers looking back up at you from the bottom of the pool. From below, you have the prime opportunity to take faux-underwater snapshots (like the photo above).

David Hockney  via The Tate

David Hockney via The Tate

Oh, David Hockney. Here he turns a lovely Los Angeles pool into something melancholic with his muted blues. In this piece specifically, I love how the human(s) have just exited the scene creating a sort of afterimage, not only via the rising splash of water, but through the abandoned chair, and flesh-colored pavement.

Kristen Martincic  via People of Print

Kristen Martincic via People of Print

Kristen Martincic is an amazing printmaker using traditional methods to create these spare graphic, modern, geometric pools, but aside from her pristine technique, her monochromatic color schemes are absolutely dreamy.

Oliver Spies  via Milk Magazine

Oliver Spies via Milk Magazine

This photographic piece is by Oliver Spies. I sense an homage to David Hockney, but this work takes swimming-pool-minimalism to the next level (all in the name of selling some children's clothing).

Maria Svarbova via

Maria Svarbova via

Finally, I couldn't help but include Maria Svarbova's clean, concise, and dreamy photographs. Those colors are amazing!