Visual Acoustics Film – The Modernism of Julius Shulman

visual acoustics julius shulman

I had a chance to check out Visual Acoustics this weekend and I highly recommend it. The documentary is about the life and work of Julius Shulman, a brilliant architectural photographer whose photos captured the history of modernist architecture in Southern California. During his prolific career he worked with nearly every modern architect since the 1930s including John Lautner, Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra, PIerre Koenig, Charles and Ray Eames, Craig Ellwood, Raphael Soriano and Gregory Ain.

The release of this film seems especially timely, given that Julius recently passed away. If you are unfamiliar with his work, you are in for a real treat.


visual acoustics julius shulman

Recreation Pavilion. Mirman Residence, Arcadia, California, 1959. Architects: Buff, Straub & Hensman.

julius shulman

Photo of Case Study House 22 (The Stahl House) c1960 – designed by Pierre Koenig.

julius shulman

(images via the Visual Acoustics website, Design Public blog+ The Mid Century Modernist)

Recommended reading: A Constructed View: The Architectural Photography of Julius Shulman.

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Also worth checking: Saul Bass Case Study House #20.

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For what it’s worth, that black and white photo is of the Robert Lee Frost Auditorium in Culver City, designed by Walter Leland Moody. The auditorium of my old high school, it was dedicated in 1964 and still very much in use today. Also: it’s shown as Woody Allen’s “new home” of the future of his movie “Sleeper.”

david e |

Found design |

These photos and ambients are amazingly cool, and they remind me of my imaginary America, the one I glimpsed at and dreamed of in movies and magazines. I was under the false impression that most Californian houses looked that way! Then I moved there and discovered the ugly truth of subdivisions…

This looks so amazing, but I can’t find a screening in Boston! :(

They just added more screenings to the list, so it is probably coming to a city nearby you. Check it’s website out for details. I can’t wait to view the film.

Thanks for posting this, Dave. I’ve just returned from the final showing of the movie in San Francisco. It was beautiful and entertaining.

Hey Tim,
Glad you were able to check it out. We’re you familiar with his work before watching the film?

You might be interested in the upcoming Coast Modern film. Looks like it will include interviews with bay area modern architects like Henrik Bull.

Hey Dave,
The name sounded familiar, but I had no idea how influential Julius was in shaping the careers of architects and the role of photography within the profession. I was very sad to learn that he passed away in July.

I’d also like to see “Snake Bit,” a documentary about the Rural Studio and Samuel Mockbee.

Thanks Tim, for passing along “Snake Bit” this looks like a great film. Just bookmarked it.

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