Lines of Modern Living - Julius Shulman

December 18th 2013 to January 13th 2014

Opening on December 18th 2013 at Silent Gallery, Lines of Modern Living is a rotating solo exhibition of Julius Shulman’s works. The series was originally exhibited as a part of the exhibition “Birth of the Cool: California Art, Design and Culture at Midcentury” at the Orange County Museum of Art in 2007.

These classic masterpieces emphasize Shulman’s love of Los Angeles, which despite his extensive traveling, has always been his home. Reducing the subject to geometric essentials and underlining dynamic lines, Shulman’s bold portaits of hundreds of modern structures helped idealize the Los Angeles lifestyle. His unique distinctive camera angles and intuitive timing have helped define the metropolis and become iconic symbols of the California dream.

The Closing party will take place Saturday, January 11th from 6-9PM at Silent-Gallery. 

The artist

Julius Shulman (1910-2009) was an American architectural photographer. His inventive photographs of Southern California’s modern homes promoted the careers of a number of visionary architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra, Pierre Koenig, John Lautner, Ray Eames and Mies van der Rohe.

In 1987, the Shulman House was designated a Cultural Heritage Monument by the city of Los Angeles. In 2005, Shulman and fellow photographer Juergen Nogai exhibited at the Design and Architecture Museum in Frankfurt, Germany; at the Barnsdall Municipal Gallery in Los Angeles in 2006, and at Craig Krull Gallery Bergamot station, Los Angeles in 2007, and 2009. An exhibition of their work was also held in Mannheim, Germany, in 2010. In 2006, Shulman received a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars, followed by a large exhibition of his work at the Palm Springs Art Museum, curated by Michael Stern. Shulman’s work is part of the permanent collection of the Getty Center.

The Case Study Houses

The Case Study Houses were experiments in American residential architecture sponsored by magazine Arts & Architecture magazine from 1945 to 1966. Some of the most prominent architects including Richard Neutra, Raphael Soriano, Ray Eames, Pierre Koenig amongst others, were commissioned to design and build inexpensive yet efficient model homes to respond to the housing boom caused by the end of World War II.  While not all designs were built, most of those constructed were in Los Angeles, and one in Phoenix, Arizona. 


Case Study House #22 (Stahl house):

Koenig was amongst few to accept the challenge of constructing a modern home on the sharp cliff-edge yet breathtaking location the Stahls had purchased. He presented the project to the Case Study Program, which accepted it. A unique, elegant and simple custom-house which has since become a perfect manifestation of Los Angeles modernity, and post-war American living. 

Case Study House #21 

This house was constructed shortly after Case Study House #22, and in many ways defined Koenig’s style and brought him to the spotlight. The two steels houses, with open-planning and emphasis on unity of nature and architecture, differenciated California aesthetic from East Coast modernism. This house, unlike #22, was made to be a prototype of affordable, mass-produced housing. 

Case Study House #20 (Bass House):

In building the case study house #20, architects Conrad Buff III, Calvin Straub and Donald Hensman chose to use traditional and innovative material for its construction. Wood was used for framing the house while they chose stressed skin plywood panels for continuous light weigh beams. Although they were the first to use the vaults, they consider the space relationships more of a radical change/ challenge than the factory products.

“As in the piazza system of European cityscapes, you move around a bend and space are revealed. You wander through space.” (Saul Bass)

One important visual aspect of the house was the giant Italian pine tree, which was used as an umbrella. Unfortunately the tree had to be cut down. On a visit in the late 80’s for a documentary from MOCA, Straub discovered, much to his disappointment, that only an enormous stump remained (cut clean as of today). It had been a victim of itself, beginning to displace the house and threaten the windows during windstorm.

Case Study House #23

Designed by architects Brady, Smith & Killingsworth the 3-house project was conceived to link organically while integrating with the environment. The layout was constructed to give enough privacy to each home, while sharing a community. The living rooms and master bedrooms are designed to lead to nature: with panoramic views or direct access to outside. The kitchen and children rooms were designed to be separate from core of the house, and their rooms to have direct access to play yard. 

Mobil Gas Station – Anaheim, CA 1956

This Mobil station was designed by Whitney Smith and Wayne Williams as a mockup, which once graced the intersection of Harbor Bl. and Katella Ave in Anaheim (not far from the then new Disneyland). The story Shulman captures in this image is one he spontaneously staged: asking the architect’s wife to drive in and a stranger coming in for gas found himself asked to pose and act. 



The modernist octagon home, standing on the San Fernando Valley, just off Mulholland Drive, can only be reached by a funicular. Its one story of 2200 square feet of living space is perched atop a 5-foot-wide concrete pole nearly thirty feet high.  The Chemosphere was named by the Encyclopedia Britannica as “the most modern home built in the world.” 

 A 1964 episode of the TV show "Outer limits" used the building as a futuristic residence. The exterior scenes for the television episode were shot on location and a detailed set of the house's interior was built on a sound stage. It was also used in the 1984 film "body double" directed by Brian de Palma and it appeared in "Men in Black"  in 1997.

Kaufmann House

The Edgar Kaufmann residence designed by Richard Neutra is one of the most famous architectural images of all time. Kaufman, a Pittsburg department store magnate, became an architecture patron with his commission to Frank Lloyd Wright for the design of his famous Bear Run (“Fallingwater”). It was then purchased by Eugene and Francis Klein who sold it in 1973 to Barry Manilow. In 1993, the house was purchased and rebuilt by Beth and Brent Harris, and was designed by architects Leo Marmol and Ron Radzinner. It has since become the first private residence designated as a protected local landmark “Class 1 site.” Neutra gave Shulman explicit instructions about how he wished the building to be photographed, suggesting dusk and evening shots. Shulman’s photograph of the house played an integral role in establishing the Kaufmann residence as of the nation’s most iconic modern designs, and set ground for Shulman and Neutra’s best-known work. 

The Dome House

While still a USC student, Bernard Judge started the design of his residence, known as the Dome House in 1958. Coined as the “Bubble” house by legendary L.A Times Home Magazine editor Dan MacMasters. The epic structure built by Judge was designed by Fuller so its occupant would be able to locate his or her location in the universe. 

The Frey Residence

Albert Frey, one of the first architects to work alongside Le Corbusier at the Paris atelier, and years later with A.Lawrence, designed some of the most prominent architectural structures of the 20th century. Amongst the 200 building designs he produced, some of his best-known works include the Aluminaire House, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and his private residences, amongst many others. 

One of these legendary structures is the Frey Residence II, which was completed in 1964, where the architect resided until his death in 1998. It took him 5 years to select the site and a year to measure the movement of the sun (using a 10-foot pole). Sitting up on the San Jacinto mountain and looking across the Coachella Valley, the house was at the time the highest elevation of any residence in the city.

Frey, who was keenly conscious of Nature, chose colors to match the natural elements surrounding him: the curtains were made to be the same yellow as the surrounding Encilla flowers, and the ceiling was painted sky blue. He also included a large boulder into the design, emphasizing the bond of man and its environment.