Los Angeles After the Rain, CA

The Santa Monica Mountains are flush with wildflowers and new grass thanks to long-overdue rainfall in the lead up to spring. Even the freeways look beautiful from up here.

Getty Center, a fantastic museum with free admission, and the 405 freeway

Getty Center, a fantastic museum with free admission, and the 405 freeway

Matchbox cars on the 405 freeway

Matchbox cars on the 405 freeway

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

The Getty View trail

The Getty View trail

Looks like lavender

Looks like lavender

Across the dividing canyon

Across the dividing canyon

Los Angeles' sunlight brings everything to life

Los Angeles’ sunlight brings everything to life

Views of the Getty Center on Casiano Road, heading back to the 405.

Views of the Getty Center on Casiano Road, heading back to the 405.

 

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If You Can Picture It: The Getty Center ~ LA, CA

“… the Museum at the Getty Center, opened in 1997, continues to solidify the Getty’s position as one of the nation’s leading art museums, welcoming well over one million visitors each year with a wide range of experiences, from innovative exhibitions to inspiring programs for families and students, as well as brilliantly installed displays of our permanent collection.”

~ Getty  Museum

Up in the Santa Monica Mountains stands the Getty Center — more a beacon of white than an imposing structure. I see it near-daily from the end of our street, and for months it has been beckoning us to visit. Finally we made the time.

The most beautiful thing about this museum is its juxtaposing architectural details — sleek stark-white surfaces soothe even if they’re a little rough around the edges; the design is at once futuristic, modernist, and timeless; the verdant palatial grounds echo Versailles yet fondly embrace California’s wild flora.

Here, the sum is greater than its parts.

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Shulman Inspired, California Desired

I think it’s just a beautiful way of thinking of my dad and Los Angeles as siblings. They really did grow up together. ~ Judy McKee, daughter of Julius Shulman

Shulman’s pictures have this base of romance to them. His work represents a certain ideal that happened years ago. ~ Ed Ruscha, artist

History is strange. Here, it becomes mystical. ~ Julius Shulman on Los Angeles

Singleton House, Los Angeles, 1960 ~ Neutra, Richard Joseph, Architect

Within 24 hours I garnered a greater appreciation for Californian architecture than ever before thanks to the works of a leading 20th century photographer, the late Julius Schulman (1910-2009).

This happened while watching the 90-minute documentary, Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Schulman, and afterwards, researching what I had seen. I appreciate that fellow bloggers, All About Travel and The Way I See It recommended I see the film (in response to my Vintage Inspired California post).

I was ordained to become a photographer, I was destined... ~ Julius Shulman

Miller House, Palm Springs, 1937-41 ~ Neutra, Richard Joseph , Architect

Director and producer Eric Bricker does an excellent job of giving us a glimpse into Mr. Shulman’s life. Filmed in his mid nineties, Shulman comes across as a man of quick wit, a man who loves life and Los Angeles, a man who was passionate about his craft.

Life is good. Life can be beautiful. What more can I ask? ~ Schulman said after receiving his Honorary degree from Westbury University, CA, at 90-something years of age.

University of California, Irvine, 1968 ~ William L. Pereira Associates , Architect

The film introduces us to Shulman in his home, located high in the Hollywood Hills. We hear Shulman’s personal recollections, witness his handover of assets to the Getty Center,  see him honoured with a Doctorate of Architecture. As I watched the film, I wondered why I hadn’t researched his work earlier. I wish I had met him.

The whole story of my life will now be transposed to Mr. Getty’s Hall ~ Julius Shulman

Shulman House, Los Angeles, 1951 ~ Soriano, Raphael, Architect

Shulman House – another perspective

Julius Shulman’s Home designed by Raphael Soriano, 1951. (© J. Paul Getty Trust, Julius Shulman Los Angeles: The Birth of a Modern Metropolis by Sam Lubell and Douglas Woods, Rizzoli New York, 2011.)

Having lived in Southern California for a couple of years, I was drawn to Los Angeles’ modernist architecture, which Shulman so beautifully photographed — photographs that made him the  “most important architectural photographer in history,” gallery owner Craig Krull has said.

Craig Krull once exhibited Shulman’s photographs in an art show – he believed Shulman elevated commercial architectural photography to fine art – and was instrumental in selecting The Getty Research Institute as the archive for Shulman’s works.

Hensman House, Los Angeles, 1976

AISI "Style in Steel Home", Buena Park, 1967 ~ Wexler, Donald, Architect

AISI “Style in Steel Home”, Buena Park, 1967 ~ Wexler, Donald, Architect

Franks House, Los Angeles, 1968 ~ Farber, Rick, Architect

Beverly Hills Hotel, Addition, Beverly Hills, 1950 ~ Williams, Paul R., and Grey. Elmer, Architects

Beverly Hills Hotel, Addition, Beverly Hills, 1950 ~ Williams, Paul R., and Grey. Elmer, Architects

In 1936, returning to L.A. after a dismal seven-year stint at the University of California, Berkeley, Shulman accompanied a draftsman to the Kun Residence of modernist architect Richard Neutra. Shulman took six photographs of the under-construction home with a Kodak Vest Pocket 127-format camera. Neutra liked the photos so much that he asked Shulman to photograph more of his houses.

“March 5, 1936 — I remember the day — we shook hands for the first time,” Shulman said in an LA Times interview. “I met Richard Neutra, and that was the day I became a photographer.”*

Dropping out of UC Berkeley had set him on a new path.

Julius Shulman and architect Richard Neutra at the Tremaine House, Los Angeles, 1947

The modernist designs of legendary Frank Lloyd Wright, visionary John Lautner, and Neutra, provided Shulman with photogenic subjects.

His work will survive me.  Film is stronger and good glossy prints are easier to ship than brute concrete, stainless steel, or even ideas ~ Richard Neutra

LIFE and Arts and Architecture magazines used Schulman’s photographs to elevate LA’s status as a progressive city.

Shulman became an invaluable contributor to the burgeoning architectural movement, not only as a correspondent, but as talent scout and respected tastemaker as well ~ Dustin Hoffman narrated in Visual Acoustics.

Academy Theatre, Inglewood, 1940 ~ Lee, S. Charles, Architect

Academy Theatre, Inglewood, 1940 ~ Lee, S. Charles, Architect

Beverly Hilton Hotel, Beverly Hills, 1956 ~ Welton Becket and Associates, Architect

Beverly Hilton Hotel, Beverly Hills, 1956 ~ Welton Becket and Associates, Architect

Shrine Civic Auditorium (Los Angeles, 1975 ~ Adelman, Abraham A. , Lansburgh, G. Albert, Austin, John C. W. – Architects

Arts and Architecture Magazine ran an unprecedented experiment called the The Case Study House Program, an initiative spearheading the design of efficient homes for the typical Post WWII family. (That is, function vs. form). Shulman’s photograph of Pierre Koenig’s Case Study 22, below, was described as one of the ‘most evocative images of 20th Century architecture’. See my Vintage Inspired California post for more examples from this program.

Case Study 22 ~ Koenig, Pierre, Architect

“Your pictures are incredible for an amateur and better than most professionals,” Frank LLoyd Wright wrote in a note to Shulman after he’d photographed one of his designs.

You may recognise some of the interiors, below, from the movie, Bladerunner.

Bradbury Building, Los Angeles, 1970 ~ Wyman, George, Architect

Bradbury Building, Los Angeles, 1970 ~ Wyman, George, Architect

Charles Ennis

Ennis House, Los Angeles, 1953-68 ~ Wright, Frank Lloyd, Architect

Ennis Interior

Ennis House, Interior ~ Wright, Frank Lloyd, Architect

Storer House, Los Angeles, 1985 ~ Wright, Frank Lloyd, Architect

The essence of a Julius Shulman photograph comes from his artful composition of interiors from a one-point perspective, so that “the modern (would) unfold in a beautiful way.”

Somehow he’s able to put so much of himself into the vantage point that you feel his presence in the room even if he’s not in the frame ~ Tom Ford, designer

Malin House “Chemosphere”, Los Angeles, 1961 ~ Lautner, John, Architect

Burgess House, PalmSprings, 1984 ~ Frey, Albert , Architect

Burgess House, Palm Springs, 1984 ~ Frey, Albert , Architect

Silvertop, Los Angeles, 1980 ~ Lautner, John, Architect

Century Plaza Hotel, Los Angeles, 1966 ~ Yamasaki, Minoru, Architect

Ultimately though, it was Shulman’s spirit, attitude, and sense of humour that made him a success. In response to a question about the enjoyment and passion he exhibited for his photographic work, he replied, “Yes (I enjoy my work) – what else is there?”

I have this vision of him wandering around, whether it’s in the hills or in the town, seeking the world through his camera ~ Judy McKee describing Shulman’s jaunts around Los Angeles

Mobil Gas Station, Smith and Williams, Anaheim, 1956. (© J. Paul Getty Trust, Julius Shulman Los Angeles: The Birth of a Modern Metropolis by Sam Lubell and Douglas Woods, Rizzoli New York, 2011.)

Johnny’s, Los Angeles, 1956

Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1965 ~ William L. Pereira and Associates, Architect

Town & Country Restaurant, Palm Springs, 1949 ~ Jones, A. Quincy, Williams, Paul R., Architect

Shulman was always in command of his 70-year career.

“I control what I call, the visual acoustics,” he said after a slight disagreement with his photographer associate, Juergen Nogai, while photographing Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles. NB: Schulman helped Gehry land his first client.

Together, Nogai and Shulman photographed close to 200 houses.

Blue Jay House, Los Angeles • Zoltan Pali, Architect. © Julius Shulman and Juergen Nogai http://www.fabrikmagazine.com

Disney Hall, Los Angeles, Frank Gehry, Architect. Julius Shulman and Juergen Nogai http://www.fabrikmagazine.com

Shulman’s spirit lives on at Getty Center, whose archive includes 260,000 of the phootgrapher’s negatives, transparencies and prints; through book publishers such as TASCHEN; and at Westbury University in Burbank’s Julius Shulman Institute, which promotes the built environment through photography.**

Shulman remained a faithful steward to the modernist ideal. Ultimately, his vast photographic archives would become an indispensable resource as public taste later turned enthusiastically back to modernism.~ Visual Acoustics

Shulman’s archives serve as a long-lasting, tangible reminder of the 20th-Century modernist movement and LA’s development as a city.

Robert L. Frost Memorial Auditorium, Culver City, 1963

San Diego Stadium, 1967 ~ Frank L. Hope & Associates, Architect

Stuart Pharmaceuticals, Pasadena, 1958 ~ Stone, Edward Durell, Architect

Looking Over Griffith Observatory and Los Angeles From Mount Hollywood, 1936. (© Craig Krull Gallery, Santa Monica, Julius Shulman Los Angeles: The Birth of a Modern Metropolis by Sam Lubell and Douglas Woods, Rizzoli New York, 2011.)

* http://www.latimes.com/features/ **http://architecture.woodbury.edu