Magazine article Tablet Magazine

Modern Love

Magazine article Tablet Magazine

Modern Love

Article excerpt

Julius Shulman knew how to capture West Coast glamour. Though he is best-known for photographs of modernist architectural masterpieces, especially the idealized private spaces contained within midcentury homes like Pierre Koenig's Stahl House (also known as Case Study House No. 22), Shulman's love of Los Angeles sprawled from coffee shops to luxury homes and from community colleges to the majestic Griffith Park. But in his photographic universe, he kept order, with pitch-perfect arrangements of Knoll and Herman Miller furnishings and a meticulously composed vanishing point.

Born in Brooklyn and raised in rural Connecticut until the age of 10, when his family moved to Los Angeles, Shulman maintained his connection to nature while simultaneously documenting a new urban paradigm that was taking shape on the West Coast. Shulman sought spiritual sanctity in the beauty of the physical worldboth built and naturalbut never in a synagogue. He had no interest in ethno-centrism or Jewish exceptionalism. Yet he maintained close relationships with architects in the progressive modern movement, many of whom were Jewish emigres from Europe who often found philosophical and professional support from Jewish Americans.

Architects of American synagogues embraced the seismic shift of modernism, and so too did practitioners and patrons of residential and commercial modern design. This generally meant rejecting historical precedent in favor of a forward-thinking visual and spatial vocabulary that valued clean lines and new technologies over fussy ornamentation. …

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