The buildings burned in our memories, which to us represent the spirit of fifties and sixties architectural design, were those whose pictures were widely published in magazines and books; but what about those that got lost in the process, hardly or never appearing in publication?
The exchange of visual information is crucial to the development, evolution, and promotion of architectural movements. If a building is not widely seen, its photograph rarely or never published, it simply does not enter into architectural discourse. Many buildings photographed by Julius Shulman suffered this fate, their images falling into oblivion. With this book, TASCHEN brings them to light, paying homage to California Modernism in all its forms.
The abandoned files of Julius Shulman show us another side of Modernism that has stayed quiet for so many years. Bringing together nearly 250 forgotten masterpieces, Modernism Rediscovered pays tribute to these lesser known yet outstanding contributions to the modern architectural movement. It’s like sneaking into a private history, into homes that have rarely been seen and hardly appreciated as of yet.
American photographer Julius Shulman’s images of Californian architecture have burned themselves into the retina of the 20th century. A book on modern architecture without Shulman is inconceivable. Some of his architectural photographs, like the iconic shots of Frank Lloyd Wright’s or Pierre Koenig’s remarkable structures, have been published countless times. The brilliance of buildings like those by Charles Eames, as well as those of his close friend, Richard Neutra, was first brought to light by Shulman’s photography. The clarity of his work demanded that architectural photography had to be considered as an independent art form. Each Shulman image unites perception and understanding for the buildings and their place in the landscape. The precise compositions reveal not just the architectural ideas behind a building’s surface, but also the visions and hopes of an entire age. A sense of humanity is always present in his work, even when the human figure is absent from the actual photographs. Today, a great many of the buildings documented by Shulman have disappeared or been crudely converted, but the thirst for his pioneering images is stronger than ever before.
Pierluigi Serraino is a practicing architect resident in the San Francisco Bay Area. The author of many books on architecture, including TASCHEN's Modernism Rediscovered, his articles and projects have appeared in Architectural Design, ArCA, Global Architecture, Hunch, Construire, Architettura, ACADIA, and Journal of Architectural Education.