American photographer Julius Shulman’s images of Californian architecture have burned themselves into the retina of the 20th century. A book on modern architecture without Shulman is inconceivable. 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.
Hunter Drohojowska-Philp writes about modern art, design and architecture. She is a regular contributor to Artnews, Artnet, Western Interiors and Design, and the Los Angeles Times and the author of Full Bloom: The Art and Life of Georgia O'Keeffe.
Owen Edwards has written about photography for 30 years for numerous publications including American Photographer, New York Times Magazine, and Smithsonian.
Philip J. Ethington is Professor of History and Political Science at the University of Southern California and North American Editor of the journal Urban History. He is currently completing a large-format graphic book and online publication called Ghost Metropolis, Los Angeles, 1542–2001.
Peter Loughrey is director of Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA) specializing in 20th Century Design by architects.