Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Julius Schulman, 98.8 years young
I want to give Master Schulman a proper farewell, as we Angelenos have lost our city's iconic photographer. Julius Schulman helped put Los Angeles modernist architecture, specifically the Case Study houses, on the map and kept them there for the next 60 years. He was a rigorous perfectionist, yet brought warmth and humanity to sometimes cold architectural imagery by using people in his photographs. And somehow, those people remained as stylish as the architecture. Schulman donated his library to the Getty Center, which seems like the perfect resting place for his Los Angeles imagery.
Mr. Schulman celebrated architecture that was very familiar to me. Growing up in Silverlake, a neighborhood in Los Angeles, the hills were spotted with Neutra houses, with the occasional Schindler and John Lautner home thrown in for good measure. His images felt like home to me. Though I never met him, one of my biggest thrills was having my work hang next to his at a photography auction where the work was placed alphabetically. He has been well celebrated in Los Angeles over the past few years, with exhibitions at the Getty, the Palm Springs Art Museum, The Los Angeles Public Library, the Barnsdall Municipal Gallery, Craig Krull Gallery, and at the New Annenberg Center for Photography. He worked right up until the end, solidifying that working keeps you young, and photographers continue to set records for living long lives.
Ed Schlad wrote a great piece in Artslant, where he shared this anecdote from his last visit with Julius:
“How do workshops with you work, Julius,” I asked.
“Well, the students take a photograph of a building. I take a photograph of a building. Then, I tell them why mine is better.”
And of course it was.
I also asked my friend, Gil Garcetti, if he had an anecdote, as Gil and Julius had become close friends over the last few years. This is was Gil had to say:
Julius was a great friend and mentor of mine. The last time I saw him was about three weeks before he died. He greeted me warmly and immediately asked about which photo project I was working on. "I read that you are having an exhibition of your water photographs at the United Nations,but what else are you doing, Gil?" When I reminded him of my photo project on women bicycle riders in Paris. "This is the one where you have beautifully dressed women riding bicycles and doing everything we do here in cars. Right?" At 98.8 years of age, Julius was again demonstrating his vigor and marvelous memory. Then he said, "I have an idea for you, Gil. What you should do is get a top fashion house in Paris to sponsor your project. Get 10 beautiful models, wearing the designer's clothes and have them ride bicycles. You photograph them and give the designer credit. Don't you think that is a great idea?" He laughed when he said the last sentence, but both he and I knew it was in fact a great idea.
He was thinking photography until the very end.
Dustin Hoffman narrates a wonderful film on Julius, Visual Accoustics. Not yet released, there are screenings this summer in Australia and New Zealand.
Thanks for the memories, Mr. Schulman.
at 7:17 AM Posted by Aline