Julius Shulman: Case Study
Julius Shulman: Case Study
The Case Study House program was established by Arts & Architecture magazine in 1945 in an effort to produce model homes for efficient and affordable living during the housing boom generated after the end of World War II. Using Southern California as a location for the prototypes and commissioning top architects of the day, the program made important contributions to mid-twentieth-century American architecture. The majority of the program’s thirty-six commissioned designs were constructed, and featured the work of notable architects such as Charles and Ray Eames, Richard Neutra, Pierre Koenig, and Raphael Soriano.
The artist responsible for documenting these homes was Julius Shulman (1910–2009). A longtime resident of Southern California, Shulman began a career in architectural photography in 1936 when asked by an acquaintance working for Richard Neutra to photograph the architect’s recently completed Kun Residence. His visual interpretation of space struck a chord with Neutra, who hired him to document each of his projects. Shulman’s career quickly escalated, and by the mid-1950s he had become widely recognized as one of the nation’s foremost photographers of architecture. Much of his early success can be attributed to his dynamic images of the Case Study Houses. During the program’s active years, Shulman worked on assignment for the magazine and in collaboration with contributing architects to photograph the majority of the prototype homes. Vivid and persuasive, his photographs capture the essence of each home, rendering the steel and glass structures as inviting and attractive places for modern living.
Born in Connecticut, Shulman moved to California in the 1920s, later studying at University of California, Los Angeles, and University of California, Berkeley. Shulman worked full-time as a commercial architectural photographer from 1936 until the late 1980s, then intermittently until the early 2000s. His work has appeared in countless publications and exhibitions, and has come to be valued both as an archive of historical importance, and for its place in the art world. Shulman held three honorary doctorates from various United States universities, and in 1998, he received a lifetime achievement award from the International Center for Photography in New York. In 2005, Shulman’s work was featured at the Getty Research Institute in a retrospective exhibition corresponding with the institute’s acquisition of his archive, which contains over 260,000 negatives, transparencies, and prints.
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