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Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman

It wasn’t until May of 2009 that I truly started to appreciate the work of Julius Shulman. I’d seen his work and thought it was amazing before then, but I didn’t bother to research or buy any of his books – I know… shame on me! In May of 2009, I joined a bus tour called Oklahoma Modernism Architecture Tour featuring five Oklahoma City area modern buildings that Julius Shulman photographed during the years he worked in Oklahoma. The tour was hosted by Oklahoma City Museum of Art which also had organized the exhibit called “Julius Shulman: Oklahoma Modernism Rediscovered,” featuring over 65 images taken in Oklahoma. Soon after the tour, I started to search out his books and other media to learn more about the legendary architectural photographer.

Whether you are an expert on Julius Shulman or fairly new to his work, a documentary film directed by Eric Bricker, “Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman” is a great medium to explore the life and work of Julius Shulman. This 83-minute documentary discusses the role of Shulman’s images in introducing modern architecture to the general public and helping to shape the careers of influential 20th century architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra, John Lautner, and Frank Gehry. This film is not only a great source to learn Shulman’s career, but also a delightful portrayal of Julius Shulman – warm, witty and charming gentleman. Julius Shulman was 98 years old by the end of the filming of Visual Acoustics. Although Shulman stopped doing photography assignments in 1986, he remained active up until his passing away in July of 2009 through publications, exhibits and lectures.

Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman was released theatrically by Arthouse Films in the United States between late 2009 and early 2010. The film is available now on DVD. The film won awards at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, Austin Film Festival, Newport Beach Film Festival, and the Lone Star International Film Festival. It is a must see for any mid-century modern design/architecture fans as well as architectural photography enthusiasts. As a mid-century modern fan/photography enthusiast, I enjoyed this film very much.

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