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One year ago: Julius Shulman

July 15, 2010 |  6:00 am


One can hardly talk about mid-20th century Modernist architecture without mentioning Julius Shulman, a photographer whose work was found in just about every book published on Modernist architects. He died one year ago.

Beyond just making good pictures, Shulman had an overarching vision for his work: build the reputation of the architects who were bringing innovative design to the West.

Shulman's roster of clients contained many of the big names pioneering contemporary architecture, including Frank Lloyd Wright and Rudolf M. Schindler. After the Depression, Shulman's studio was one of three in the United States to which Arts & Architecture, Architectural Forum and other magazines turned to document the exciting new work being done in architecture.

It was a photo taken at sunset May 9, 1960, of the famous Case Study House No. 22 in the Hollywood Hills that earned him the most fame. The black-and-white photograph is taken from outside the cantilevered house, shooting through glass walls to the grid of sparkling city lights below. Largely due to Shulman's photo, the house is now one of the most photographed in the world.

"He has a sense of visual bravura of composition," wrote the late Robert Sobieszek, photography curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, "so that he can take a rather mundane house and make it look exciting, and take a spectacular house and make it look triply spectacular."

For more on the famous photographer of architecture who worked well into his 90s, read Julius Shulman's obituary by The Times.

--Michael Farr

Photo: Julius Shulman. Credit: Los Angeles Times