AFF 2008 Reviews

Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman

D: Eric Bricker

It's been nearly 80 years since Julius Shulman stumbled into the center of the bold new modernist world bubbling up in the deserts and hills of Southern California. Since then, he's become a legend of architectural photography, and his mesmerizing, sensual, iconic pictures of the work of Rudolph Schindler, Richard Neutra, Frank Lloyd Wright, Frank Gehry, and countless others have become as revered as the buildings they immortalize. In this remarkable documentary, first-time director Bricker follows Shulman as he revisits the houses that made him famous – some which he hasn't laid eyes on in 50 years, even as his photographs of them have become indispensable – mapping the twists and turns of 20th century aesthetics as they go. Still spry and sharp at 98, the old master seems only too happy to recount his glories and celebrate a legacy that's as responsible for the global triumph of modernism as any Picasso rectangle or Stravinsky ballet. Not bad for a kid from Brooklyn.

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