Famed architectural photographer Julius Shulman died earlier this week at the age of 98. Shulman is best known for his images of modernist architecture in California. (Kauffman House, 1947, at right, via Yancey Richardson Gallery.)
The moniker “architectural photographer” seems to me to have a slightly negative connotation, as though taking pictures of buildings is somehow easier or less important than taking pictures of people or landscapes or other subjects. I think Shulman was really a nuanced portrait photographer; his portraits were simply of built structures rather than people. And while some might consider many of his works to be celebrations of the architects who conceived and engineered the buildings, I think this misses the artistry and craftsmanship Shulman brought to his photographs. While not every image of a building he took is a stunner (and many of the subjects he was tasked with challenged conventions of beauty in architecture), Shulman always found a way to make an original view of the structure, rather than a simple, straight up documentary shot. Most often, he gave the viewer a feeling for how the building “felt” – whether from the outside (via its relationship to its site) or the inside (via its interior spaces).
Collector’s POV: Julius Shulman is represented by Yancey Richardson Gallery in New York (here). His works have regularly found their way into the secondary markets, nearly always selling for affordable prices, most between $1500 and $3000.