JULIUS SHULMAN | THE DEFINING EYE OF ARCHITECTURAL PHOTOGRAPHY

When people speak of architectural photography, these two images always come up as arguably the most iconic and moving of all. You may not know the photographer’s name, you may not know the architect– but if you’ve ever seen these images and appreciate both photography & architecture, they are most likely seared on your mind’s eye.

Julius Shulman was a photographer for 70+ yrs, capturing some of the world’s most amazing structures and spaces ever created by man. He set the standard that others now strive to reach, and when they can’t– they may simply stage or frame a shot using his famous works like a proven template as homage and acknowledgement that it just doesn’t get any better. Shulman brought Mid-Century Modern to the world as much as the legendary architects he worked with. Sought out not just for for his incredible eye– he had an innate ability to understand and interpret the architect’s intent, and tell that story strikingly with laser-like focus. Correction: Shulman didn’t set the standard– he is the standard.

Architect Richard Neutra’s “other” Kaufmann House built in Palm Springs, 1946– the first being Fallingwater, and yes– Frank Lloyd Wright’s feathers were indeed ruffled over this apparent snub when Pittsburgh department store magnate Edgar J. Kaufmann selected another architect for this project. Published in the LIFE Magazine feature “Glamourized Houses” in 1949. –Image by © Julius Shulman / J.Paul Getty Trust / Julius Shulman photography archive. “No other architect Shulman worked with was as controlling as Neutra. He would look through the viewfinder and adjust the camera, only to have Shulman move it back when he turned his head. Theirs was a battle of egos, of who was in charge of what and whom. This was never more so than when Shulman photographed the Kaufmann House on a 1947 evening. He set up inside as the sun began to fall behind the mountains, but to capture the fleeting dusk he decided to move outdoors. Neutra wanted him to stay put. Shulman ignored him and placed the tripod on the lawn facing west. As the sky darkened, the house glowed. For the next 45 minutes Shulman ran in and out of the glass house, switching lamps on and off, opening and closing the shutter to burn in the light. At the end of the exposure he asked Mrs. Kaufmann to stretch out on the deck. Who wouldn’t want to imagine themselves there? The photograph, its lights and darks forming a thousand shades of gray, the geometric lines of the house set against the jagged range, would become one of Shulman’s two most reproduced works.” –Mary Melton

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TRUMAN CAPOTE’S HAMPTONS STUDIO | THE INTENTIONALLY UNTENDED LOOK

It’s not to say that I’m not a fan of his written works, but what I love Truman Capote for more are his brilliantly bitchy Black & White Ball of 1966 to celebrate the release of In Cold Blood, and his subdued and soothing studio hidden among the scrubs in the heart of the Hamptons that he personally designed as his own private oasis. I believe that most of these pics of the Mid-century modern beach studio were actually taken in 1965 (except for the last pic of Capote seated in his robe), though this story is from the archives of Architectural Digest, ca. 1976. Sadly, it no longer looks quite as charming as it does in these old photos. Through subsequent updates by later owners the beach studio has been sterilized a bit and is sorely lacking Capote’s self-proclaimed intentional untended chic and quirky touches.

1965– Truman Capote standing on the ledge of the fireplace in the living room of his Hamptons country studio near Sagaponack on the South Fork. –Image by © Condeˆ Nast Archive/Corbis

From Architectural Digest, 1976–

It is virtually impossible to find his Long Island home in the Hamptons, but that’s exactly the way he wants it. Hidden behind scrub pine, privet hedges and rows of hydrangea bushes is Truman Capote’s two-story, weathered-gray beach house near Sagaponack on the South Fork.

He lives in the heart of the Hamptons—a stretch of rolling potato fields and lush farmlands married to the nearby Atlantic Ocean. A year-round farming community and a summer place for city people, it is here that antique farmhouses vie with modernistic glass houses for the dunes and fields. Mr. Capote once called Sagaponack “Kansas with a sea breeze.”

1965– Author Truman Capote relaxes in a wicker chair outside his Long Island home in the Hamptons. –Image by © Condeˆ Nast Archive/Corbis

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21 HELMETS @THE ONE MOTORCYCLE SHOW | SEE SEE MOTORCYCLES, PDX

You may recall me telling you to get over to See See Motorcycles (Portland, Oregon) back in December to check out 21 Helmets. Rewind: 21 white Bell helmets were custom-designed by noted weirdo artists, including photographer Ray Gordon of Throttled fame. Well, Thor Drake and company are putting on another event– The One Motorcycle Show (February 10th-11th) where the the helmets will be displayed again along with 10 new helmets added to the mix– one of which is being done by pinstriping legend Mitch Kim). There will also be bikes by Deus, 4Q Conditioning, and more. Admission is free, so shit– get there! 1642 NE Sandy Blvd., Portland, OR

Also, check out the video at the end of the post on how 21 Helmets came together and the many talented artists and wonderful weirdos behind it.

Corey Smith

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GEORGIA O’KEEFFE & MARIA CHABOT | “WOMEN WHO RODE WAY”

“Georgia O’Keeffe hitching a ride to Abiquiu, Ghost Ranch, 1944″ AKA ”Women Who Rode Away.” –Image by Maria Chabot @Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. The painter, Maurice Grosser, visited his friend O’Keeffe’s ranch in 1944. Maria Chabot photographed O’Keeffe and Grosser on his 1938 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead. It’s an amazing image that celebrates denim, machine, and the joy of the open road. That look on O’Keeffe’s face says it all.   

GEORGIA OKEEFFE HARLEY-DAVIDSON MOTORCYCLE

Initially I was interested solely in wanting to know more about the superficial circumstances around this incredible image. You know– the motorcycle, driver, etc. It soon became very clear that there was/is this unresolved, controversial account of the exact nature of Chabot and O’Keefe’s friendship that’s fascinating in itself, and added mystery and tension to this incredible shot and the close connection between the two women. There has been speculation for decades that they were involved in an intimate same-sex relationship. There are those convinced that Maria Chabot was obsessed with O’Keeffe to the point of being jealous, possessive, and an embellisher of their history together in order to paint the relationship as she wished it were. And then there are the close to 700 hauntingly personal letters written by the two women, back and forth to one another, that more than hint to something deeper than just friendship. Eventually O’Keeffe matter-of-factly requested that Chabot leave her Abiquiu house for good unless personally  invited back by O’Keeffe herself. So, what really happened?

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SHAWN DICKINSON ILLUSTRATIONS | SOCAL KUSTOM KULTURE KARTOONS

“Ghost Rider” by Shawn Dickinson

A product of SoCal, Shawn Dickinson grew up inspired by the surrounding counterculture of custom Hot Rods, Surfers, and the iconic art that was produced by the legends before him– you see the classic Rat Fink and Tiki influences that, in his hands, are at once timeless and fresh.  He got his chops as a cartoonist for the underground Untamed Highway, which was chock full of 1950’s Kustom Kulture. Dickinson went on to illustrate posters for Rockabilly and garage bands, not to mention numerous comic projects and commissioned works. 

I’m a big fan of the guy’s work.  As he describes it, Dickinson’s creations and medium are a throwback fusion of, “Imagery stylistically inspired by 1930’s cartoons (what I feel was the craziest era for cartoons), mixed with iconic imagery inspired by 1950’s & 1960’s rock n’ roll, cars, bikes, etc. (what I feel was the craziest era for all those things). And I still paint with watercolor and India ink.”  Love it.

Shawn Dickinson featured in Car Kulture DeLuxe Magazine

“Smooth” by Shawn Dickinson

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PHOTOGRAPHY OF ROBERT ALTMAN | PAPA WAS A ROLLING STONE

After attending Hunter College in NYC, Robert Altman apprenticed under none other than Ansel Adams. He then went on to serve as Chief Staff Photographer for Rolling Stone magazine from 1969-1971. Many of Altman’s images became iconic for the brilliant and passionate way he captured those that shaped music history in particular, and the ’60s & ’70s culture at large.

The Sixties: Photographs by Robert Altman is a must own. Oh, and he’s not to be confused with Robert Altman the film director — both epic in their own right.

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Holy Man Jam festival, Boulder, Colorado, August 1970 — Image by © Robert Altman. “I love this photograph. You’ve got the perfection of a very pretty young lady, hands raised, holding a maraca. Right between her is this jubilant face… Another second or two, and her expression may have changed, an arm might have moved in front of an eye, and it’s a whole different photograph. Sometimes photography is alchemy, pure magic. Sometimes it just all comes together.” –Robert Altman

January, 1970 — Author Ken Kesey at home in Springfield, OR — Image by © Robert Altman. Kesey, author of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and a master mind of The Sixties was an original and much loved figure, and the focus of Tom Wolfe’s best seller “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.” Sadly Rolling Stone ran this photo as a double page spread when Ken passed the acid test and also passed onto the next great adventure. via

The Gold Rush Festival, October 4, 1969 — Tina Turner, “The Fan” — Image by © Robert Altman

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EAST MEETS WEST | THE INCREDIBLE ARTWORK OF SOLONGO MELLECKER

Incredible is the only word I can muster when looking at these amazing works by Solongo Mellecker that dreamily blend traditional Eastern techniques through a modern Westernized looking glass.

Un-effing-real.  Color this blogging fool blown away. Thank you Peteski for turning me on to these. What rock have I been living under… Prints start at just 40 bucks, people.  Go here now.

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The Fishing Hole — Solongo Mellecker

Baba Yaga the Goddess of Death — Solongo Mellecker

Blue Yama — Solongo Mellecker

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20TH CENTURY AVANT-GARDE ICON | TSY STYLE HALL OF FAME JEAN COCTEAU

“An artist cannot speak about his art any more than a plant can discuss horticulture.”

–Jean Cocteau

Jean Cocteau.  Quite possibly the most important art icon of the 20th century, who could seemingly do it all, and with great style– painter, poet, playwright, novelist, actor, film-maker, the list goes on and on. But he was first and foremost a poet at heart– and a truly incredible one at that.

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Stunning photo of Jean Cocteau by Irving Penn.  Damn, the man had style.  Borrowing a page out of The Duke of Windsor’s book– perfectly pairing classic menswear patterns with elegance and ease. “Penn made this portrait of Jean Cocteau during a 1948 trip to Paris for Vogue.  Each thread of Cocteau’s tie, vest, and suit is etched in light and shadow; the patterns and the texture pop out in vivid, tactile detail.  The drape of his coat over an extended arm adds drama and balance to the composition. Cocteau is dressed in the sartorial attire of a dandy, which, by all accounts, he was.  There is an air of flamboyance about him, until you look at his face.  His dead-serious expression registers the fierce intelligence of a keen observer, as if he is taking our measure while deigning to allow us to take his.” –Philip Gefter via

August 1955, France– Picasso with Jean Cocteau at a Bullfight –Image by © Vittoriano Rastelli/Corbis Pablo Picasso and Jean Cocteau knew one another for nearly fifty years. They met in 1915 following Picasso’s departure from martre, where Cocteau’s friend, the poet Max Jacob, had shared an atelier with the painter– one using the only bed by day, and other by night. Picasso made an immediate and lasting impression on Cocteau, who considered him as one of his three masters. via

Jean Cocteau sketching model Elizabeth Gibbons in a Chanel dress in his hotel bedroom (Castille in the Rue Cambon), surrounded by posters of his latest theatrical productions, photos of friends, medicine bottles, books, stage sets and pencils, 1937.  –photo by Roger Schall via

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DAY 8 | THE WORLD THROUGH THE EXCELLENT EYES OF ALFRED DUNHILL

Renowned artist Chris Dent was commissioned to create a jaw-dropping Dunhill-centric cityscape.

In this world of endless blogs, online magazines, and internet noise, comes a refreshing and fascinating brand experience from an iconic English label whose heritage and importance goes largely unnoticed and under-appreciated here in the US– Alfred Dunhill.

DAY 8 is the deliciously Dunhill view of the world around us.  I appreciate their seamless blend of narrated films and curated pictorals with such varying subjects as artist Chris Dent’s Dunhill cityscape, the precision and passion behind their coveted Chassis leather collection, and a tribute to Chris Milk’s global collective art masterpiece, which no surprise I love– The Johnny Cash Project.

Just days old, DAY 8 already delivers the perfect blend of creativity, elegance, travel, culture & intelligence that makes the short list of daily reads.  More so, it reinforces that in the world of luxury, not all brands are created equal.  Those who honor their heritage and allure of the past, and tell it through relevant and innovative design and dialogue, like Dunhill, are rare.  Color me impressed.

The Johnny Cash Project is a global collective art project that you (yes, you)  can participate in.

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GIVE THANKS TO THOSE WHO CAME BEFORE US AND GAVE UP MUCH

This Thanksgiving holiday, give thanks for all the blessings bestowed upon us one and all. And please also take time for a special remembrance of the true Americans. The Native Americans who were massacred in this very country, this sacred soil, that we call the home of the brave, and land of the free. Ironic, because there’s not a better description of these very people that we conquered, caged, and crippled. Labeled as Godless, savage, animals by a group that was oddly enough fleeing their own persecution, oppression, and judgement. These beautiful people, here before us, whose land was brutally stolen. Their beliefs, culture, and art were almost completely erased, not for a lack of trying, but by the grace of God. And in the name of, what? A shameful chapter in American history, any way you look at it. Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Judged. Now go and enjoy your turkey.

The Apache.  Photograph by Edward S. Curtis, taken c. 1907-1930. Edward S. Curtis, a professional photographer in Seattle, devoted his life to documenting what was perceived to be a vanishing race. His monumental publication “The North American Indian” presented to the public an extensive ethnographical study of numerous tribes, and his photographs remain memorable icons of the American Indian. The Smithsonian Libraries holds a complete set of this work, which includes photogravures on tissue, donated by Mrs. Edward H. Harriman, whose husband had conducted an expedition to Alaska with Curtis in 1899.  via

Kotsuis and Hohhuq – Nakoaktok.  Photograph by Edward S. Curtis, taken c. 1907-1930.

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