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Julius Shulman Los Angeles: The Birth of a Modern Metropolis

Last month I posted a review of a documentary film on Julius Shulman, “Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman.” Since then, two books on Julius Shulman were published: Julius Shulman: The Last Decade by Kehrer Verlag and Julius Shulman Los Angeles: The Birth of a Modern Metropolis by Sam Lubell and Douglas Woods (Rizzoli New York, 2011). I obtained a review copy of the latter (courtesy of Rizzoli New York) and would like to share what I thought of this beautifully bound book.

© Julius Shulman Los Angeles: The Birth of a Modern Metropolis by Sam Lubell
and Douglas Woods, Rizzoli New York, 2011.

Julius Shulman Los Angeles: The Birth of a Modern Metropolis presents a collection of photographic works of Los Angeles where Shulman lived and adored. Shulman beautifully documented the transformation of Los Angeles and its surrounding areas in the 1930’s, 1940’s, 1950’s and 1960’s through his lens. This book introduces images of Shulman’s lesser-known and never published before photographs of Los Angeles and its surroundings – many images in this book consist of photographs of factories, constructions sites, and commercial buildings.

© J. Paul Getty Trust, Julius Shulman Los Angeles: The Birth of a Modern Metropolis by Sam Lubell and Douglas Woods, Rizzoli New York, 2011. Mobil Gas Station, Smith and Williams, Anaheim, 1956.

The book consists of five chapters: City, Development, Houses, Living, and Work. The “City” chapter presents streets and buildings of downtown Los Angeles – many of the landmarks still exist today. In the “Development” chapter, Shulman documented how the area’s unspoiled landscape and farmland transformed into commercial centers, freeways, and residential developments. The “Houses” section, you see modernist and other styles of houses by both well-known and lesser-known architects. Everyday lives of people in Los Angeles in the 1930’s to 1960’s are seen in the “Lives” chapter. The “Work” chapter presents post-World War II Los Angeles and America at large. You can see the images of both the industry buildings and its workers in offices, construction sites and factory assembly lines.

© J. Paul Getty Trust, Julius Shulman Los Angeles: The Birth of a Modern Metropolis by Sam Lubell and Douglas Woods, Rizzoli New York, 2011. Drive-in dining at the Googie-style Tiny Naylors, designed by Douglas Honnold at Sunset and La Brea in Hollywood, 1952.

When I hear Shulman’s name, I tend to focus on his most published images featuring the mid-century modernism architecture such as Pierre Koenig’s Case Study House No. 22, Richard Neutra’s Kaufman House, John Lautner’s Chemosphere, etc. In this book, I was introduced another side of his work – lesser known, but equally remarkable.

Book Summary:
JULIUS SHULMAN LOS ANGELES: The Birth of a Modern Metropolis
By Sam Lubell and Douglas Woods, Foreword by Judy McKee
Rizzoli New York
ISBN: 978-0-8478-3548-5
Hardcover / 240 pages / 180 b/w and color photographs / 12″ x 10″
PRICE: 60.00 US / $69.00 CAN / £39.95
PUBLICATION DATE: APRIL 2011

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