Julius Shulman, one of the foremost photographers of modernist architecture, passed away at his home in Los Angeles this past wednesday. As fans of modernism, architecture and photography it's hard to ignore the tremendous influence Julius Shulman had on an entire era of design. His eye and his ability to capture iconic structures like Case Study House number 22 while conveying a whole lifestyle made him the go-to photographer for architects like Richard Neutra, Rudolf M. Schindler, Gregory Ain, Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles Eames, Raphael S. Soriano, John Lautner and Pierre Koenig.
For 70 years Julius photographed modernist architecture in Southern California, helping document the movement happening in and around LA, drawing attention nationally with his striking images of the California Lifestyle. A number of collections of his work have been released recently including the epic 3 volume series from Taschen. We had the fortune of seeing him receive a lifetime achievement award at the 2008 Photo LA exhibit and stood at a distance explaining his significance to those close to us at the DWR Tools For Living Opening.
Julius moved to LA when he was 10 years old and spent most of his life in LA. Photography was an interest that he pursued on his own, taking only one photography class in his lifetime. A chance meeting with Richard Neutra and some photos exchanged set his career in motion. Throughout his lifetime, he helped build the reputations of modern architects by translating the mid century modern movement happening in LA and Palm Springs into glossy full page spreads in magazine and newspapers, drawing attention nationally and internationally to innovative ideas in architecture.
As the LA Times reported, Julius was quoted as saying "I was lucky to be doing the right thing at the right place at the right time. So any time anybody wanted a photograph of a modern house, Uncle Julius provided the picture." But he did more than document, he staged images: adding props and rearranging furniture to create a complete picture.
Without the influence of Julius, the mid century aesthetic wouldn't be half what it was then or what it is today. We salute you, Julius Shulman.
(Image: Julius Shulman of Case Study House 22)