I think it’s just a beautiful way of thinking of my dad and Los Angeles as siblings. They really did grow up together ~ Judy McKee, daughter of Julius Shulman
Shulman’s pictures have this base of romance to them. His work represents a certain ideal that happened years ago ~ Ed Ruscha, artist
History is strange. Here, it becomes mystical ~ Julius Shulman, on Los Angeles
Singleton House, Los Angeles, 1960 ~ Neutra, Richard Joseph, Architect
It is possible that in a span of 24 hours I have garnered a greater appreciation for Californian architecture than ever before; attributed largely to the spirit and optimism of one of the leading photographers of the 20th century, Julius Schulman (1910-2009).
Sparked whilst viewing the 90-minute documentary, Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Schulman, I have fellow bloggers, All About Travel and The Way I See It, to thank for recommending it to me in response to my Vintage Inspired California post.
I was ordained to become a photographer, I was destined... ~ Julius Shulman
Miller House, Palm Springs, 1937-41 ~ Neutra, Richard Joseph , Architect
Film director and producer Eric Bricker did an excellent job in providing a glimpse into the life of Mr. Shulman. Filmed when he was already in his mid-nineties, Shulman came across as a man of quick wit who exuded joy for just living life. He had an unwavering love for Los Angeles and exibited a strong passion for his craft.
Life is good. Life can be beautiful. What more can I ask? ~ Schulman, on receiving his Honorary degree from Westbury University, CA at age of 90-something.
University of California, Irvine, 1968 ~ William L. Pereira Associates , Architect
The film introduces us to Shulman in the grounds of his Los Angeles home, located high in the Hollywood Hills. It then traces the history of his work through personal recollections, documents the difficult process of handing over his works to the Getty Center, and leads us into the historical present – when Shulman was honoured with a Doctorate of Architecture. The whole way through the film, I was wishing I had researched his work earlier; I wish I had met him.
The whole story of my life will now be transposed to Mr. Getty’s Hall ~ Julius Shulman
Shulman House, Los Angeles, 1951 ~ Soriano, Raphael, Architect
Shulman House - another perspective
Julius Shulman’s Home designed by Raphael Soriano, 1951. (© J. Paul Getty Trust, Julius Shulman Los Angeles: The Birth of a Modern Metropolis by Sam Lubell and Douglas Woods, Rizzoli New York, 2011.)
Having lived in Southern California for a couple of years, from 2008 -10, I was drawn to the simplicity of LA’s modernist architecture; designs similar to those Shulman first photographed that subsequently propelled him to the stature of “most important architectural photographer in history,” as described by gallery owner Craig Krull.
Craig Krull exhibited Shulman’s photographs in an art show – he believed Shulman elevated the genre of commercial architectural photography to a fine art form – and was instrumental in the final decision for selecting The Getty Research Insitute as the ideal institution to archive the photographer’s collection of works.
Hensman House, Los Angeles, 1976
AISI "Style in Steel Home", Buena Park, 1967 ~ Wexler, Donald, Architect
Franks House, Los Angeles, 1968 ~ Farber, Rick, Architect
Beverly Hills Hotel, Addition, Beverly Hills, 1950 ~ Williams, Paul R., and Grey. Elmer, Architects
In 1936, having just returned to L.A. from a dismal seven year stint at University of California Berkeley, Shulman accompanied a draftsman to the Kun Residence of pioneering modernist architect, Richard Neutra. Still under construction, Shulman took 6 photographs of the home with a Kodak Vest Pocket 127-format camera. Upon being shown the photos, Neutra noted that they “revealed the essence of my design”. He bought the photos and asked Shulman to photograph more of his houses.
“March 5, 1936 — I remember the day — we shook hands for the first time,” Shulman had said in an interview with the LA Times. “I met Richard Neutra, and that was the day I became a photographer.”*
That’s no small feat for someone who dropped out of UC Berkeley on a whim to pursue a more creative career path.
Julius Shulman and architect Richard Neutra at the Tremaine House, Los Angeles, 1947
It was the modernist aesthetic of SoCal’s architecture, designed by emerging architects as well as more established masters – the legendary Frank Lloyd Wright, visionary John Lautner, and of course Neutra – that provided Shulman with his photogenic subjects.
His work will survive me. Film is stronger and good glossy prints are easier to ship than brute concrete, stainless steel, or even ideas ~ Richard Neutra
High profile magazines, such as LIFE and Arts and Architecture, introduced his interpretation of the West Coast lifestyle to the rest of the world and helped elevate LA as a destination for progressive architecture, art and culture.
Shulman became an invaluable contributor to the burgeoning architectural movement not only as a correspondent but as talent scout and respected tastemaker as well ~ narrates Dustin Hoffman in Visual Acoustics.
Academy Theatre, Inglewood, 1940 ~ Lee, S. Charles, Architect
Beverly Hilton Hotel, Beverly Hills, 1956 ~ Welton Becket and Associates, Architect
Shrine Civic Auditorium (Los Angeles, 1975 ~ Adelman, Abraham A. , Lansburgh, G. Albert, Austin, John C. W. - Architects
The Case Study House Program was an unprecedented experiment in architecture, run by Arts and Architecture Magazine. It was initiated with the intent of creating well-designed homes for the typical Post WWII family. Many designs were immortalised by Shulman’s lens. The photograph of Pierre Koenig’s Case Study 22, below, was described as one of the ‘most evocative images of 20th Century architecture’. See my Vintage Inspired California post for more examples from this program.
Case Study 22 ~ Koenig, Pierre, Architect
“Your pictures are incredible for an amateur and better than most professionals,” wrote Frank LLoyd Wright, in a note to Shulman after he’d photographed one of his designs.
You may recognise some of the interiors, below, from the movie: Bladerunner (Bradbury Building and Ennis House).
Bradbury Building, Los Angeles, 1970 ~ Wyman, George, Architect
Ennis House, Los Angeles, 1953-68 ~ Wright, Frank Lloyd, Architect
Ennis House, Interior ~ Wright, Frank Lloyd, Architect
Storer House, Los Angeles, 1985 ~ Wright, Frank Lloyd, Architect
Julius Shulman breathed life into his architectural photographs by capturing the harmony of homes within their surrounding landscapes, and by artfully composing interiors from a one point perspective – so that ‘the modern (would) unfold in a beautiful way.’
Somehow he’s able to put so much of himself into the vantage point that you feel his presence in the room even if he’s not in the frame ~ Tom Ford, designer
Shulman captured the essence of Modernist architecture – its form and function in tune with nature.
Malin House "Chemosphere", Los Angeles, 1961 ~ Lautner, John, Architect
Burgess House, Palm Springs, 1984 ~ Frey, Albert , Architect
Silvertop, Los Angeles, 1980 ~ Lautner, John, Architect
Century Plaza Hotel, Los Angeles, 1966 ~ Yamasaki, Minoru, Architect
Ultimately though, it was Shulman’s spirit, attitude, and sense of humour that made him a success. In response to a question about the enjoyment and passion he exhibited for his photographic work, Shulman replied rhetorically, “Yes (I enjoy my work) – what else is there?”
I have this vision of him wandering around, whether it’s in the hills or in the town, seeking the world through his camera ~ Judy McKee describing Shulman’s jaunts in Los Angeles
Mobil Gas Station, Smith and Williams, Anaheim, 1956. (© J. Paul Getty Trust, Julius Shulman Los Angeles: The Birth of a Modern Metropolis by Sam Lubell and Douglas Woods, Rizzoli New York, 2011.)
Johnny's, Los Angeles, 1956
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1965 ~ William L. Pereira and Associates, Architect
Town & Country Restaurant, Palm Springs, 1949 ~ Jones, A. Quincy, Williams, Paul R., Architect
Shulman’s passion for his craft carried well into the last years of his life; he never really retired a career that spanned seventy years. Even in his nineties, he had no trouble directing his photographer associate, Juergen Nogai; he’d express his opinion, and firmly stood by it.
“I control what I call, the visual acoustics,” he said after a slight disagreement with Nogai whilst photographing Gehry’s Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles - a scene depicted in Visual Acoustics.
Together, Nogai and Shulman collaborated on photographing close to 200 houses; revisiting locations previously photographed by Shulman as well as building a client list of new contemporary architects, including visionary Frank Gehry. NB: Schulman helped Gehry land his first client.
Shulman’s spirit lives on through the rich legacy he left behind: from on-going exhibitions at The Getty Center - their archive includes 260,000 of Shulman’s negatives, transparencies and prints; to working with book publishers including TASCHEN; to forming the Julius Shulman Institute at Westbury University in Burbank, with goal of promoting an appreciation and understanding of the built environment, particularly as mediated by photography.**
Shulman remained a faithful steward to the modernist ideal. Ultimately his vast photographic archives would become an indispensable resource as public taste later turned enthusiastically back to modernism.~ Visual Acoustics
His archives have continued to be just that – a trove of inspiration; a visual reminder of the modernist movement that swept California in the early-mid 20th century, as well as a documentation of the development of LA as a city.
Robert L. Frost Memorial Auditorium, Culver City, 1963
San Diego Stadium, 1967 ~ Frank L. Hope & Associates, Architect
Stuart Pharmaceuticals, Pasadena, 1958 ~ Stone, Edward Durell, Architect
Looking Over Griffith Observatory and Los Angeles From Mount Hollywood, 1936. (© Craig Krull Gallery, Santa Monica, Julius Shulman Los Angeles: The Birth of a Modern Metropolis by Sam Lubell and Douglas Woods, Rizzoli New York, 2011.)
This photograph was taken in 1936, a year after the Griffith Observatory had opened, bringing scientific advancement to a publicly accessible peak in Griffith Park. http://www.tabletmag.com
* http://www.latimes.com/features/ **http://architecture.woodbury.edu