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Julius Shulman (b. 1910, Brooklyn, NY; d. 2009, Los Angeles). American architectural photographer.

If there has ever been a man who captured defining images of the time he lived, it is Julius Shulman. Among his vast output of fine b/w and color photographs are iconic images from the great age of modern architecture in the 40s, 50s and 60s. Geographically, his work spans the globe, but the greatest concentration of images are from southern California, in a rough triangle with vertices at Los Angeles, San Diego, and Palm Springs. Two of his images are arguably the greatest, and most famous art photographs of architecture in the world.

The first of these was taken in 1947, of Richard Neutra's 1946 Kaufmann House in Palm Springs. Kaufmann was the client who, a decade earlier, had caused Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater to be built, and after rejecting another Wright design for the desert, Kaufmann settled on the more avant-garde modernism of Neutra. The picture is easy to recall. The crisp lines of the glass-walled house fill the middle ground with a series of cantilevered horizontal planes over verticals which offer more articulation than structural support. In the background, what Shulman calls 'alpenglow'--vestiges of sunset--forms a halo over the western mountains which rise up barren and rugged behind the house. The interior of the house is subtly lit and beckons us in from the backyard. In the foreground and to the left of the house proper are pool chairs and the pool. On a pad hastily thrown down on the cement border of the pool is Mrs. Kaufmann, whose head and upper body block a pool light. The immense seductive power of well designed modern architecture in its full flourishing was never more apparent than in this photograph. The moment, alas, is gone, and as if a harbinger of its transitory nature, Mrs. Kaufmann died not long thereafter. Shulman says that this picture has had the widest circulation of any photograph in the history of architecture.

The second of Shulman's great icons is a 1960 night-time photograph of Pierre Koenig's 1959 Case Study House #22, high in the Hollywood Hills over LA. In a glass box cantilevered out over the hillside, two women in attractive cocktail gowns are seated with improbably correct posture. Their light gowns contrast with the dark plain of LA below, and that plain is speckled with a million lights in a suggestive grid. The roof is formed by a serried row of beams resting with geometrical precision on a lintel supported by the narrowest of posts between the glass panels. The materials are industrial; the furniture is modern but clearly accessibly priced. This is the post-war dream, to live high and aloof above the fabulous modern city in your impeccably modern aerie, and the underlying message is that any middle class people with sufficient bravery to explore the modern lifestyle can afford it.

But these are merely the most famous of Shulman's photographs. His work documents an exciting period of (especially) domestic architecture in great detail and to look through a collection of his photographs offers in itself an introductory course in modern architecture.

In his retrospective Architecture and its Photography, Shulman complains of the emptiness of contemporary design, and it is hard not to read his words with elegiac emotions. His eye was attuned to modern architecture, he made it famous, and then in a reciprocal way, it made him famous. He speaks of the great earnestness of Walter Gropius in a 1963 meeting with that famous architect/designer, about how the architect and his staff were deeply concerned to meet the clients' demands and to produce absolutely the highest quality product. Shulman unconsciously regrets the disapearance of the moderns and the ascendancy of the postmoderns, whose ironic, historicizing style is at such odds with the earnestness of moderns like Gropius. It is telling that there is only one photograph of a postmodern structure in Shulman's book, Philip Johnson's Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, CA.

There is a large and growing literature about Shulman on the web, and he will rise to the top of a Google search for "Julius Shulman".
Dietsch, Deborah, Classic Modern. Midcentury Modern at Home (2000) 52-57 (Kaufmann house); 88-99 (Case Study Houses); 86-87 (affordability and marketing).
Shulman, Julius, Architecture and its Photography (1998).
Serraino, Pierluigi, and Shulman, Julius, Modernism Rediscovered (2000).