Case Study House #22 by Pierre Koenig, photographed by Julius Shulman, 1960
“…One of those singular images that sum up an entire city at a moment in time…” — New York Times architecture critic Paul Goldberger
Hello, it’s Erika from small shop with our third “Art in 5”! Since we’ve covered a painter (Ellsworth Kelly) and a sculptor (August Rodin), today I thought I’d discuss a photographer: Julius Shulman. I actually had the immense honor of meeting Shulman at his house in 2007 through a family friend. At 96, he was as sharp as ever, and quite a spitfire. One of the questions he brought up during our encounter I still ponder to this day: What’s more famous: the architecture, or Shulman’s photograph of the architecture?
I remember he seemed to say with both pride and a hint of bittersweetness in his voice that he was still at that time making a living off of work by mid-century architects like Neutra and Lautner who had all passed away decades before. But in a symbiotic kind of way, these same architects became famous initially because of his photography. Would we even know some of these structures if it wasn’t for his beautiful photography?
If you’re not too familiar with him or his work, but have seen a few of his images, here’s what you should at least know (and two little fun facts about two of his most famous photographs that he revealed to us that day!)…
And here are some of his photographs that you may or may not know:
The Spencer House Malibu by Richard Spencer, photographed by Julius Shulman, 1955
The Booth House by architects Smith & Williams, photographed by Julius Shulman, 1956
Convair Astronautics by architects Pereira and Luckman, photographed by Julius Shulman, 1958
The Chuey House by Richard Neutra, photographed by Julius Shulman, 1958
Case Study House #20 The Saul Bass House by architects Buff, Straub & Hensman, photographed by Julius Shulman, 1958
Case Study House #21 by Pierre Koenig, photographed by Julius Shulman, 1961
Case Study House #22 The Stahl House by Pierre Koenig, photographed by Julius Shulman, 1960
“Chemosphere” by John Lautner, photographed by Julius Shulman, 1961
“Chemosphere” interior by John Lautner, photographed by Julius Shulman, 1961
Silvertop House by John Lautner, photographed by Julius Shulman, 1980
One of my favorite quotes about his work comes from Newsweek magazine’s Cathleen McGuigan who wrote that Shulman’s photographs of modern glass houses in Palm Springs and Los Angeles “are so redolent of the era in which they were built you can practically hear the Sinatra tunes wafting in the air and the ice clinking in the cocktail glasses.”
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