Architectural photographer enjoys revival at 97

Sat Jul 19, 2008 12:55am EDT
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By Mary Milliken

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Julius Shulman took a photograph in 1960 that made millions dream of a perfect life: two women seated in a glass house seemingly suspended in mid air as the twinkling lights of Los Angeles beckon below.

Nearly 50 years after the famous photo of Case Study House #22, the man many consider the finest architectural photographer in history finds himself a cult figure for a new generation that covets the minimalist mid-century modern architecture he took around the world.

"They are discovering architecture and discovering the power of photography," said Shulman in an interview at his Laurel Canyon home, surrounded by photos and layouts for big-format books by high-brow publishers like Taschen.

Modern style magazines like Wallpaper and Dwell have also run recent features on Shulman, and his work has been put on film in a new documentary, "Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman," narrated by Dustin Hoffman.

Shulman, who is still active, attributes his success "to being in the right place at the right time" -- the place being Los Angeles at a time when modernists were putting their revolutionary urban design to residential use and constructing for many the quintessential California dream.

His first big break came from one of the most famous Los Angeles modernist architects, Richard Neutra, in 1936.

"Neutra saw my photographs I had taken of his house. I took six photographs. The result was he had never seen such photographs as I had taken," Shulman said.

"Up until then, I was just playing with my camera," he added.   Continued...

<p>One of noted architectural photographer Julius Shulman's most famous photographs of the Kaufmann House in Palm Springs, California designed by architect Richard Neutra is shown in this handout released July 18, 2008. Shulman is the subject of a new documentary film "Visual Acoustics The Modernism of Julius Shulman, directed by Eric Bricker. REUTERS/Copyright J. Paul Getty Trust/Handout</p>