Tuesday, October 6, 2009


The Stahl House - Julius Shulman photography


Julius Shulman (October 10, 1910 – July 15, 2009) was an American architectural photographer best known for his photograph "Case Study House #22, Los Angeles, 1960. Pierre Koenig, Architect." The house is also known as The Stahl House. Shulman's photography spread California modernism around the world. Through his many books, exhibits and personal appearances his work ushered in a new appreciation for the movement beginning in the 1990s. His vast library of images currently reside at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. His contemporaries include Ezra Stoller and Hedrich Blessing. In 1947, Julius Shulman asked architect Raphael Soriano to build a mid-century steel home and studio in the Hollywood Hills.

Some of his architectural photographs, like the iconic shots of Frank Lloyd Wright's or Pierre Koenig's remarkable structures, have been published countless times. The brilliance of buildings like those by Charles Eames, as well as those of his close friend, Richard Neutra, was first brought to light by Shulman's photography. The clarity of his work demanded that architectural photography had to be considered as an independent art form. Each Shulman image unites perception and understanding for the buildings and their place in the landscape. The precise compositions reveal not just the architectural ideas behind a building's surface, but also the visions and hopes of an entire age. A sense of humanity is always present in his work, even when the human figure is absent from the actual photographs.

Today, a great many of the buildings documented by Shulman have disappeared or been crudely converted, but the thirst for his pioneering images is stronger than ever before.

In 1987, the Shulman House was designated a Cultural Heritage Monument by the City of Los Angeles.

In 2000 Julius Shulman gave up retirement to begin working with his current business partner Juergen Nogai.

The Getty Research Institute held a 2005–2006 exhibition of Shulman's prints entitled "Julius Shulman, Modernity and the Metropolis"[4]. The exhibition included sections entitled "Framing the California Lifestyle," "Promoting the Power of Modern Architecture," "The Tools of an Innovator," and "The Development of a Metropolis". The exhibition traveled to the National Building Museum and to the Art Institute of Chicago.

Julius Shulman and Juergen Nogai have had exhibitions at the Design and Architecture Museum in Frankfurt, Germany in Fall of 2005, as well as an exhibition at the Barnsdall Municipal Gallery in Los Angeles 2006, Craig Krull Gallery Bergamont station, Los Angeles, October 2007, and another up-coming show in Spring 2009. An exhibition of their work is also scheduled in Mannheim, Germany in 2010.

On December 16, 2007 Shulman attended a showing of his architectural photography at the Los Angeles Public Library. The exhibit, organized by the Getty Research Institute, included one hundred fifty photographs documenting architectural changes in Los Angeles for the last eighty years. This progression includes the re-development of Bunker Hill, the growth of Century City, the avant-garde architectural designs in Los Angeles, such as Watts Towers, Grauman's Chinese Theatre, and the Getty Villa, as well as the growth of Wilshire Boulevard. The exhibition features the industrial engines at the Port of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles International Airport that helped fuel the growth of Los Angeles Also, featured diverse residential fabric from Echo Park to South Los Angeles. The exhibit spot-lighted Shulman's unique role in capturing and promoting innovative, sleek Case Study Houses, as well as the contrasting tract housing developments with repeated floor plans.

In February, 2008, the Palm Springs Art Museum presented "Julius Shulman: Palm Springs," guest curated by Michael Stern. Containing over 200 objects, this is the largest Julius Shulman exhibition that has ever been presented to date. In addition to the Shulman photographs, renderings, illustrations and models of many of the buildings that Shulman photographed were presented to compliment Shulman's extensive documentation of a place that was so inspirational to him. Rizzoli published the accompanying catalog, "Julius Shulman: Palm Springs." Additionally, a documentary DVD was produced in conjunction with the exhibition "Julius Shulman: Desert Modern."

Selected Shulman works were included in the Annenberg Space for Photography's inaugural exhibit, LOS ANGELES. One of his last commissioned works was of the Space, which opened in March, 2009, with Shulman in attendance.

Shulman was the subject of a 2008 documentary film, Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman. The film, narrated by Dustin Hoffman and directed by Eric Bricker, explores both Shulman’s art and uniquely individualistic life offering a lyrical portrait of modernism’s most eloquent ambassador. It discusses how Shulman's images helped to shape the careers of influential 20th century architects, including Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra and John Lautner. The film won the 2009 Palm Springs International Film Festival Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature as well as awards at the Austin Film Festival, Newport Beach Film Festival and the Lone Star International Film Festival.

Shulman died at his home in L.A. California on Wednesday July 15, 2009. He was 98 years old. What an amazing iconic force of the ages...