On The Block: Iconic Julius Shulman Images Coming To Bonhams In April


Julius Shulman (1910-2009) was the premier photographer of architecture in Mid-Century Southern California. When published in Life magazine in the ’60s, his images changed the way Americans looked at both Modernism and California’s indoor/outdoor lifestyle, helping to propel a huge migration to California in the following years–  a body of work that was equally romantic and visually challenging, and an elegant documentary record that still inspires. Shulman’s output was vast, with a career that spanned decades, and we’re loving these choice images from Bonhams’ upcoming April 18 Modern Decorative Art + Design auction in Los Angeles.

At top, Lot 81 is a breathtaking shot of Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann House in Palm Springs, c.1947; the velvety, vintage gelatin silver print is expected to fetch $10,000-$15,000, but we think this matchless image will bring much more. There are other Palm Springs images in the sale– like Lot 124, the pool of Albert Frey’s groundbreaking Loewy House (below) which is also expected to sell for $10,000-$15,000

Lot 40
, Richard Neutra’s sublime Josef Kun house in the almost bare hills of Hollywood gives an idea of how shocking (or thrilling) this new architecture must have been at the time; the c.1937 vintage silver gelatin print is estimated to sell for $8,000 to $12,000. We had a look at the house when it came on the market a few years back.

Not all of Shulman’s images were b+w or devoid of people; the color images that really give a sense of how vivid Mid-Century design could be. Below, Lot 80, a scene in Pierre Koenig’s Case Study House #21 is estimated to sell for $7,000-$9,000. It’s a 1958 chromogenic image printed in 2003.

More: The full auction catalogue online is fascinating, with a selection of objects and furniture ranging from Art Nouveau and Secessionist glassware to works by Memphis designers like Ettore Sottsass and Peter Shire. For all things Joseph Shulman, the Getty Research institute Julius Shulman Photography Archive is unmatched. Below, Lot 21, a moody, evocative Terrace Theater at night, dated 1942 and printed later [Est. $7,000-9,000] is just one of the sale’s images of commercial structures.

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