Fast Company

Julius Shulman, the World's Greatest Architectural Photographer, Dies at 98

 

Just a few months shy of his 99th birthday, the photographer Julius Shulman, known for his iconic photos of modern homes and a glamorous post-war Los Angeles, died at home last night in L.A., the Los Angeles Times is reporting. Shulman's respect for Modernist architecture, and his unique photographic compositions--as well as his spitfire personality--were legendary in the design community and celebrated around the world. Tapped at the young age of 26 to shoot for Richard Neutra, Shulman's images arguably launched the careers of the period's most famous architects: Rudolph Schindler, Pierre Koenig, John Lautner, Eero Saarinen, Charles and Ray Eames, and Raphael Soriano, who designed the house that Shulman had lived in for decades.

Shulman is also the subject of the recent film Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman which is currently circling the globe in screenings. Narrated by Dustin Hoffman, the film portrays Shulman as the cultural thread lacing together the creative work of icons from Ed Ruscha to Tom Ford to Frank Gehry with his numerous contributions to architecture, photography, and the Modernist aesthetic. During the filming, Shulman's archives were transported from his house to the Getty Museum, which we think is a perfect resting place for Shulman's legacy: swooping white walls, filled with people, looking out over the glittering lattice of Los Angeles.

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6 Comments

  • Manjit Syven Birk

    I do not believe it !

    I was just going through Adam Gordon's blog at FutureSavvy and I come across another 90 year old with an interesting and authentic pedigree, this time Peter L. Bernstein. That makes it three in a relatively short space of time that are no more but have caught my respectful attention.

    That might tempt a belief that things come in three's, and if that is the case, so that should be a relief to any 90+ reader who may be reading this.

    http://futuresavvy.net/2009/06...

    More importantly this has been a terrific week of personal relevance for me to have discovered and/or paid respect to these golden oldies . . . so a toast to Bernstein's uncertainty and risk cocktail, a personal click of approval to Shulman's style and a wiggle of my own spectacles to Cronkite . . . it is not the fact that I ended up writing five responses here that is intriguing me now, but that it is time that I got myself off into my warm and snugly bed.

    M.

  • Manjit Syven Birk

    I did not mean to poke my head in here for a fourth time but was browsing Ellen Lupton at FC, which took me to her sister's Julia site, from where there is a link to Metropolis magazine, where I end up reading a personalized metropolis POV about Julius Shulman.

    http://www.metropolismag.com/p...

    I only utilize the word "inevitable" these days because I find that in life we have a habit of constantly cycling back to where we have been before. Curious but the inevitable commonality of living in an expression called "it's a small world"

    M.

  • Manjit Syven Birk

    While I do appreciate the 120 second response time above, this particular posting left me wandering about two other things. Who or what in my life deserves a wait time of 120 hours before I choose to respond to them, which basically means who in my life deserves a 5 day time rather than a superspeed dial one?

    The second was wandering about all the people who died in their 90's whose achievements no longer are visible because we have all become so fast that it becomes difficult to navigate our life through moments of brilliance. I found one 90 year old who died in 1992 who caught my eye. His name is Daniel Ludwig.

    A NY Times piece from August 1992 includes this really great line about Ludwig talking about his friend Clarke Gable which reads ""Clark was all man," he once recalled crustily. "He stood head and shoulders above all those two-bit phonies in Hollywood today." "Two bit phonies?" I am so glad that I live in the 21st Century... His obituary is published here http://www.nytimes.com/1992/08...

    It shows that beyond being unpretentious, this is another one of these authentic people whose life story who are people that I am glad I am spending my time on.

    As for today's crackberry fast response times our society seems not to even remotely question (never mind the origins of e-waste) I guess what I am achieving here is making the old new again and asking myself a third question, in thinking out aloud here like this do I feed this need for speed? . . . M.

  • Manjit Syven Birk

    Alissa, in this age of microblogging and fast communicative processes I think there is going to be an inevitable loss of meaning of what people like Julius Shulman represent (and even Walter Cronkite). Our rapidly developing one-liner culture will probably make more people think on their feet such as comedians (aka Ben Stiller), so we may develop faster verbal reflex or stronger verbal retort - but what's lost is in the present social media context is longevity. Cronkite and Shulman represent this longevity, they are not archaic pieces of an old long gone media way, these people are more relevant today than they ever have been - and not simply because of a memorable moment of acerbic wit or a photograph of the Stahl building, but because they teach us the one thing we lack most today - the time to sit back and appreciate everything that unfolds out there and that is why they also represents a standard which inspires those who do not get lost in the moment, those not lost in their own reflex or retorts. This loss of meaning has little to do with people themselves but simply in fast fly by processes, so it is that that the way we interact with media today is more akin to drive by shooting than shooting for a higher purpose. What I personally do not want to lose is to hold myself in the moment so I can try to snap a Shulman like moment as I become more aware of the architecture of my own given life and therefore in doing so really begin to appreciate all that people can build and capture in the flow of a lifetime...M.

  • Alissa Walker

    Manjit, that is a great story! Thanks for sharing it. I'm sure there will be many more Shulman stories like this out there. He was certainly very opinionated!

  • Manjit Syven Birk

    I cannot think of a better tribute to Julius Shulman than how he cast his endorsed view at Ben Stiller when he was 94 as at http://5thandspring.blogspot.c... I have no idea who this guy was but reading this account tells me this guy fits neatly into my own good book of creative people who are authentic. (His death probably means that there is one less of them out there, in a world teeming with crackberrys, the kind of people that should audition for a remake of Shaun of the Dead)...M.