For nearly seven decades, renowned architectural photographer Julius Shulman (1910-2009) created a comprehensive visual chronicle of the modern architecture movement in the United States and internationally. His best known images define Southern California’s classic modernist architecture and reflect postwar ideals by capturing the architecture of the time for a global audience.
Largely known for his iconic photographs of the famous Case Study Houses, Shulman also documented modern experiments of many architects including Richard Neutra, Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles and Ray Eames, Mies van der Rohe, Oscar Niemeyer, R.M. Schindler, and John Lautner. A casual meeting with Richard Neutra in the mid-1930s was decisive in launching his career. Shulman acknowledged that “photographing modern architecture for Neutra was a rare start.”
Subsequently, Shulman photographed Channel Heights, a community and housing project of 600 dwellings commissioned by the Federal Public Housing Authority and designed by Neutra in 1942 for wartime shipyard employees and their families. Located in San Pedro, twenty-five miles from Los Angeles, the one- and two-storey homes with ocean views, health centre, community building and open gardens were available for a remarkably low cost considering the comfort they afforded. Shulman’s skilfully framed images, with their black and white aesthetic, bring out the creativity and ingenuity of Neutra’s design for dwellings in which he made the most effective use of space and local materials for the interiors and furnishings.
In addition to the images of Neutra’s work, the CCA holds Shulman’s photographs of projects designed by Welton Becket and Associates of Los Angeles, including the Prudential Insurance Building (1947), the Beverly Hilton Hotel (1955), and the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium (1958). This set is part of an archive of 755 photographs of large commercial buildings by the firm, one of the foremost American offices of the time.