Saturday, November 5, 2011

Julius Shulman: Architectural Photographer

Photographer Julius Shulman was our greatest photographic chronicler of modern architecture from the mid-twentieth century well into the twenty-first. He both documented and romanticized the work of the important architects working on the west coast: Rudolf Schnindler, Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Meyer, John Lautner, etc. At the same time he created enduring myths about modernism, Los Angeles, and the atomic age.  The film Visual Acoustics by Arthouse Films, narrated by Dustin Hoffman, is not to be missed. This cinematic biography of Julius Shulman respects and enlightens his work. It was released in 2008 and continues to make the art house and film festival circuits. It is also available on DVD from Netflix.


  1. This is an excellent film! Shulman seems to have lived a charmed life and is an example to us all of how to be happy doing what you love to do. Maybe it has something to do with his beautiful garden. There is something wistfully nostalgic about his time and place -- LA from the 20s through the 60s -- if only we could always be like that! There was a great optimism, a belief in the present and in the future, that was ideal and doesn't seem to exist anymore. Or does it somewhere and I'm just not aware of it?

  2. Yes... I feel a certain nostalgia about Shulman's time and place as well. I think part of the reason for the resurgence of interest in modern architecture -- mid-century modern in particular -- is the era has become distant enough to have some coziness about it. It used to be conventional wisdom that in bad economic times people retreated into the "safety" of traditional architecture -- something non-threatening. That doesn't seem to be true this time around. Ninety percent of our work is modern (or contemporary, if you prefer) at the request of the clients. Maybe a younger generation, having grown-up surrounded by modern, looks on it as the new traditional(!). Whatever the reason, I'm greatful for it.