Julius Shulman: Oklahoma Modernism Rediscovered

19 Feb

I just got word that Oklahoma City Museum of Art (OKCMOA) will have an exhibit of Julius Shulman photographs of Oklahoma Modernism beginning April 30th. There will be a lot of activities going on the opening weekend including a visit by Mr. Shulman himself (health permitting) and screenings of “Visual Acoustics,” the new documentary about Shulman and his long career, directed by Eric Bricker. I also heard mention the possibility of an architecture tour this same weekend. This is very exciting and will warrant a trip to OKC for sure. Read the press release, below.

Oklahoma City, OK—Organized by the Oklahoma City Museum of Art (OKCMOA), Julius Shulman: Oklahoma Modernism Rediscovered is the first-ever retrospective of photographs taken in Oklahoma by legendary architectural photographer Julius Shulman. The exhibit runs from April 30 through June 7 and will feature over 65 images – many unseen by the public for decades – of buildings designed by such world-renowned architects as Bruce Goff, Herb Greene, William Caudill, Truett Coston, Robert Roloff, and Paul Harris. Twenty-one architectural projects from six Oklahoma cities and towns will be represented in the exhibition including homes, banks, churches, museums and hospitals.

“When several of Julius Shulman’s Oklahoma photographs began appearing in the recently published books of his work, a handful of passionate local collectors reached out to him about the possibility of exhibiting this virtually unseen work. Mr. Shulman was very enthusiastic about his work in Oklahoma and agreed to work with our Museum to develop this special exhibition in collaboration with the Getty Research Institute. We believe these extraordinary images stand alone as photographic works of art while celebrating Oklahoma’s unique architectural heritage,” stated curator Brian Hearn.

Perhaps best known for his iconic photographs of Los Angeles’ Case Study houses and of Palm Springs architecture, Shulman’s incredible body of work includes more than 70,000 images. Now archived at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, Shulman’s photographs encompass a 70-year-and-counting career that includes thousands of images of buildings that would have been likely overlooked by the architectural world had he not photographed them.

Throughout his long career, Shulman often ventured inland from his base in California to explore the modernism movement in other regions of the United States. During these trips, which spanned over 30 years, he frequently stopped in Oklahoma and photographed some of the state’s most innovative modern architecture. The long, low lines and bold forms of mid-century architecture were an especially good fit, when placed against the backdrop of Oklahoma’s flat plains and vast, often mercurial skies, and Shulman’s lens dramatically captured this symbiotic relationship in images of Greene’s “Prairie Chicken” House, Goff’s Bavinger House, and Roloff’s State Capitol Bank, among others.

Indeed, Shulman’s stunning Oklahoma photographs – and his tenacity in getting them published in national magazines – brought much-deserved attention to the Sooner State and helped launch the careers of Greene, Robert Alan Bowlby, Conner & Pojezny, Murray-Jones-Murray, and other area architects and firms.

As he approaches the century mark, Julius Shulman has himself become an icon in the architectural world, and this exhibit celebrates his incredible life and career. In addition, it pays tribute to the visionary architects whose designs continue to be appreciated and admired today.

On opening weekend, the OKCMOA will host a series of related events, beginning on Thursday, April 30, with 98-year-old Shulman scheduled to attend a booksigning and to discuss his career and impressions of Oklahoma architecture. There also will be premiere screenings in the Noble Theater throughout the weekend of Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman, Eric Bricker’s critically acclaimed documentary film about Shulman’s amazing career and his associations with some of the world’s most influential twentieth-century architects. After the film’s debut on Thursday, Bricker will be on hand to lead a discussion of Shulman’s career and the making of the film.

In addition, on Saturday, May 2, the Museum will sponsor an architectural bus tour of several Oklahoma City-area buildings that Shulman photographed during the years he worked in Oklahoma. The weekend will culminate on Sunday with a panel discussion after the film with area architects and historians about the history of modern architecture in Oklahoma and the future of modernism.

Accredited by the American Association of Museums, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art serves 170,000 visitors annually from all fifty states and over forty foreign countries and hosts special exhibitions drawn from throughout the world. The Museum is home to an extensive permanent collection of European and American art, including the most comprehensive collection of Dale Chihuly glass in the world, and the Midwest’s premiere repertoire cinema, which presents the finest international, independent, and classic films. Amenities include the Museum’s Library Resource Center, Museum Store, and Museum School, which offers classes for students of all ages as well as fall, winter, and summer camps for youths. The Museum is also home to the Museum Cafe, whose French-fusion cuisine is complemented by a full-service bar complete with cocktails, specialty coffees, and afternoon tea.

The Oklahoma City Museum of Art is located in the heart of downtown Oklahoma City’s Arts District, at 415 Couch Drive. Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. The Museum is closed on Monday and major holidays. (405) 236-3100. Cafe hours are Sunday Brunch, 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Monday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (405) 235-6262.

Media Contact:
Leslie A. Spears, Communications Manager
Direct: 405-278-8206, lspears@okcmoa.com

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2 Responses to “Julius Shulman: Oklahoma Modernism Rediscovered”

  1. Drew 20. Mar, 2009 at 3:02 pm #

    Yes, that’s the bank on Lincoln Blvd. Awesome! Jeorge Jetson lives at University Towers, but commutes to this bank every day.

  2. Landon Fruman 23. Jul, 2012 at 4:41 am #

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