In Memoriam: Julius Shulman

We here at the Dwell offices were all saddened to learn that architectural photographer Julius Shulman passed away last night at the age of 98. His photography helped define mid-century modernism and no one can claim more credit for documenting, and in some ways inventing, what post-war California cool looked and felt like.

 

 

“A wonderful mess” is how Shulman describes his desk. Interspersed among the family snapshots, mementos, and tchotchkes are several enlarged quotations, including one from Art News: “If buildings were people, those in Julius Shulman’s photographs would be
“A wonderful mess” is how Shulman describes his desk. Interspersed among the family snapshots, mementos, and tchotchkes are several enlarged quotations, including one from Art News: “If buildings were people, those in Julius Shulman’s photographs would be Grace Kelly: classically elegant, intriguingly remote.” Photo by Catherine Ledner.

We’ve long admired Shulman as a peerless artist and advocate for the values of modern design, and given that a number of the buildings he photographed have since been altered or knocked down, his record as perhaps the greatest chronicler of American modernism is without match.

The LA Times has posted a nice slideshow of Shulman and his work, and if you're in the listening mood, go to NPR.org to hear Alex Chadwick's 2005 interview with Shulman (a voice worth hearing), recorded in his Raphael Soriano–designed home in Los Angeles (which we visited in October 2007). We also caught up with Shulman for our Design Leader video series, which you can watch here. Also keep an eye out for an opportunity to see the new documentary Visual Acoustics, which we recently screened at Dwell on Design (and read Dwell's interview with director Eric Bricker here).

 

Portrait by Catherine Ledner.

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