March 7, 2011

Visual Acoustics

I just finished watching a documentary film on the remarkable life of Architectural Photographer and Environmentalist, Julius Shulman. It was a gorgeous journey through architecture of the modern movement, framed by the camera, forever preserving the essence of place undeniably captured through the brilliant eye of Julius Shulman. Julius photographed the built work of some of the most accomplished architects around the world. The film was beautifully shot, and captured the wit, curiosity and optimism that propelled him through his magnificent life.

Julius had the eye of an Architect; A mastery of light, composition and balance. I was inspired by his love of life as well as his love of his craft. He singlehandedly encapsulated a generation of Modern Architecture. Julius Shulman's work documented not only what the eye could see, but incredibly what a building felt like, experientially. He believed a building should be instilled with the spirit of the landscape. This belief is evident in the perspective of his photographs. He said "the camera is the least important element of photography". Rather it is the ability to see, understand and manipulate our environment. Culturally, we are lucky to have known the likes of Mr. Shulman. Without him, much of the vast and historically important work of the modern movement would have been lost. Sadly, Julius passed away, but his photographs live on in the permanent collection at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. What a gift. I have included a snapshot of two of his iconic works below, The Stahl House by Pierre Koenig 1960, and Case Study House no. 20, by Buff, Straub & Hensman, 1958.

The Visual Acoustics website offers the following synopsis of the film:  "Narrated by Dustin Hoffman, VISUAL ACOUSTICS celebrates the life and career of Julius Shulman, the world’s greatest architectural photographer, whose images brought modern architecture to the American mainstream. Shulman, who passed away this year, captured the work of nearly every modern and progressive architect since the 1930s including Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra, John Lautner and Frank Gehry.  His images epitomized the singular beauty of Southern California’s modernist movement and brought its iconic structures to the attention of the general public. This unique film is both a testament to the evolution of modern architecture and a joyful portrait of the magnetic, whip-smart gentleman who chronicled it with his unforgettable images". If you are interested in learning more about the film, I encourage you to watch the Visual Acoustics Theatrical Trailer. I was profoundly moved by Julius' passion and attention to detail. I appreciate the unique opportunity the film offers to glimpse into masterpieces preserved and shared through his eyes, I believe, just as the architect had intended them to be experienced. Photographs are part of the J. Paul Getty Trust, Julius Shulman Photography Archive, Research Library at the Getty Research Institute.

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One Response to “Visual Acoustics”

  1. Tod Tangonan Says:
    March 21st, 2011 at 1:39 am

    My wife and I saw Visual Acoustics and loved it. We enjoyed Shulman's candor and his images are indeed breathtaking.
    We picked up Julius Shulman:Desert Modern and will watch that this week.
    The Getty Archive is a treasure for sure. Here is a link to the digital collection.
    We got to visit the Hotel Lautner and meet Tracy. That place is amazing.