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Spatial Organization and the Mentality of a Generation

February 24, 2010

Visual Acoustics, a documentary about Julius Shulman’s life and work, will be playing at the Melwood Screening Room from February 26th through the 28th.

Our philosophy permeates all of our creations. The southern Californian optimism and openness of the mid-twentieth century was built into the architecture and is reflected in Julius Shuman’s photographs thereof.

Julius Shulman's California

Julius Shulman was the foremost architectural photographer of the last century. He documented the modernist and avant-garde homes, offices, and public buildings that were erected during the second half of the twentieth century. His photos portray an aesthetic movement, and are themselves works of art.

The photographs reflect a desire for simplicity, open space, and order. They are filled with repeated geometric forms: rectangles, straight lines, parallel lines, Cartesian grids. Negative space is emphasized, as is a parallelism between the structures and their shadows. The photos are thus mathematical; they are visualizations of linear transformations.

Jutting house

Architecture of the time worked to eliminate the boundary between artificial structure and nature. Many of Shulman’s photographs feature trees growing through houses, rooms with only three walls, rock formations as part of a home’s décor. They show the house as part of southern California’s natural drama and geology.

His photos give the impression of space, often by placing the vanishing point outside a window, making a room seem not only limitless, but also a natural extension of the landscape beyond it. By blending the outside with the inside, he juxtaposes natural chaos with modernist order and simplicity.

Learn more about his life and work this weekend by watching Visual Acoustics at the Melwood Screening Room.

References:
Shulman, Julius and Pierluigi Serraino. Modernism Rediscovered. Cologne: Taschen GmbH. 2000

http://www.getty.edu/art/exhibitions/shulman/

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