Click on images to enlarge.
Life Magazine, April 11, 1949, pp. 146-7. Richard Neutra, Kaufmann House, Palm Springs, 1947. Julius Shulman Job No. 093, 1947. From the Journal of Architectural Education, November, 1993, "Glamourized Houses": Neutra, Photography, and the Kaufmann House by Simon Niedenthal. From my collection.
The above iconic 1947 Julius Shulman image of Richard Neutra's Kaufmann House presaged the dynamic duo's entree into the Pantheon of modernist architecture and photography. Arguably the most iconic architectural photograph ever taken, it is by far both men's most published work. See the excellent article, "Julius Shulman in 36 Exposures" by Los Angeles Magazine editor-in-chief Mary Melton for a description on how the photo was made.
Shulman and Neutra circa 1950. From "A Constructed View: The Architectural Photography of Julius Shulman" by Joseph Rosa. From my collection.
The following February 3, 1947 Time Magazine article (excerpt) was the first significant publicity referencing Richard Neutra's Kaufmann House in Palm Springs and was a harbinger of the impending global publicity blitz orchestrated by Neutra and his primary photographer, Julius Shulman.
Excerpt from the February 3, 1947 issue of Time Magazine
"The name Richard Joseph Neutra means nothing at all to most Americans. Of all architects who have made their reputations in the U.S., Richard Neutra ranks second only to lordly Frank Lloyd Wright. Last week publishers in Italy and South America were planning books about Neutra. And an issue of the French magazine L'Architecture d'Aujourd'hui, devoted almost entirely to him, had reached the U.S.
Neutra has done as much as any modern architect to prove that glass, steel and concrete are practical, if not cozy.
His wide, white houses perch perkily on the hills around Los Angeles where he lives, and they alter more distant landscapes too. He is versatile enough to have designed both a moated desert mansion for Movie Director Josef von Sternberg and an elaborate system of low-cost schools and hospitals for Puerto Rico. Neutra's buildings are pondered and imitated (especially in technical details of construction) by architects around the world. Says noted French Architect Marcel Lods in L'Architecture : "[He] is already a classic and will be more so tomorrow. Neutra offers us an infinitely precious message."
Inside-out House. To deliver that message, Vienna-born Neutra (pronounced Noytra) had come a long way from his first assignment in 1915: a tea house for the fortress of Trebinje, Herzegovina. Neutra came to the U.S. in 1923, sat at the feet of famed Skyscraper Architect Louis Sullivan, the father of modern, functional architecture and the teacher of Frank Lloyd Wright.
Neutra met Wright at Sullivan's funeral in 1924. Soon afterwards, with his wife and mother-in-law, he paid a long visit to Wright's Wisconsin home, Taliesin. Neutra named his eldest son for Wright, went forth to preach the gospel of modern architecture on lecture tours which took him from Rome to Tokyo. He long ago fashioned a style of his own, and made mass housing his main interest.
Now, at 54, Neutra is designing a Palm Springs desert hideaway for Pittsburgh Millionaire Edgar J. Kaufmann, whose famed house in Bear Run, Pa.—designed by Wright—overhangs a waterfall. Compared with Wright's cantilevered castle-in-the-air, Neutra's Kaufmann house will be down to earth, with the low-flying flat roofs, glass walls and furnished terraces of a house turned inside out. To make life as smooth outdoors as in, the four courtyards will have walls and floors piped for summer cooling and winter heating."
Courtesy Neutra Archive, Dept. of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA. From Christie's Richard Neutra: The Kaufmann House Auction Catalog below.
After reading the above letter from Neutra's most famous patron, Pittsburgh department store magnate Edgar J. Kaufmann, Sr., one would not think that the Palm Springs desert house Neutra designed for him would end up being one of the most publicized in architectural history, but that is exactly what happened. Architectural Forum editor Henry Wright also penned Neutra a self-serving letter dated June 17, 1947 stating that Kaufmann had agreed with him that the house only be published in Life and Architectural Forum domestically. Neutra knew that this commission was his best work yet and wasn't about to let his client's wishes stop him from launching the most ambitious publicity campaign of his career. For a more in-depth analysis if the early publicity of the Kaufmann House see the Journal of Architectural Education, November, 1993, "Glamourized Houses": Neutra, Photography, and the Kaufmann House by Simon Niedenthal.
Los Angeles Times Home Magazine, June 15, 1947. Fist publication with Shulman photos. From the Journal of Architectural Education, November, 1993, "Glamourized Houses": Neutra, Photography, and the Kaufmann House by Simon Niedenthal. From my collection.
To counteract this slow roll-out in the U.S., Neutra devised a campaign to publicize the house heavily overseas, drawing upon the dozens of editors he had courted with his previous projects. Per an agreement with Kaufmann, he did not mention the owner's name and disguised the location as being in the "Colorado Desert."
Beginning in June, 1947 through 1950 the Richard Neutra Kaufmann House with Julius Shulman photos was featured in Architects' Journal and Architectural Review, (Britain), Metron, Casabella and Domus (Italy), Marg (India), Arkitekten (Denmark), Architekt (Poland), L'Architecture d'Aujourd'hui and L'Architecture Francaise (France), Baumeister (Germany), Revista de Arquitectura (Buenos Aires), Kokusai-Kentiku (Japan), and Arquitectura (Mexico), not to mention numerous articles with which it was grouped with other Neutra projects. Including the opening Life Magazine spread, Neutra's publicity quest was so successful that it catapulted him to the cover of Time Magazine's October 15, 1949 issue.
"Art: New Shells," Time Magazine, Oct. 15, 1949. Richard Neutra and preliminary floor plan of Kaufmann House. From my collection.
Edgar J. Kaufmann, Jr. was in the U.S. Air Force Intelligence Service at the time the senior Kaufmann commissioned Neutra to design the house in 1946. When he returned from the service he was 'outraged' that his father had turned to an architect other than Wright.
In his book Fallingwater, Kaufmann, Jr. states with the benefit of many years of detachment, "It fell to me to talk of the way this would appear in relation to Fallingwater. The Neutra house would be interpreted as a rejection of Wright, and Wright would be the first person to react. My father agreed to withhold his name from publication of the new house, and during Wright's lifetime it was known merely as "a house in the [Colorado] desert", as the local area, curiously, was called."
In his essay text for the Victoria & Albert Museum exhibition catalog "The Kaufmann Office: Frank Lloyd Wright" Christopher Wilk cites Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer's "Master Drawings from the Frank Lloyd Wright Archives", "Despite harmony between Neutra and Kaufmann and the bestowal of several awards upon the new house, the large number of unprotected windows and plate glass walls left the house too exposed to the desert sun. The Kaufmann's therefore turned to Wright for an alternate scheme in 1951." (See below).
Aerial perspective, Frank Lloyd Wright's Boulder House (unbuilt) for Liliane and Edgar J. Kaufman, Sr., Palm Springs, 1951. Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. From 'Frank Lloyd Wright: Architect' edited by Terence Riley, Museum of Modern Art, 1994. From my collection.
In the above 'Boulder House' rendering, Wright condescendingly contrasts his bold grand organicism with his erstwhile disciple Neutra's seemingly much smaller "International Style" footprint seen in the upper right corner. The house was intended to be built on a lot near just north of Neutra's Kaufmann House at 470 W. Vista Chino and just a little east of Albert Frey's Raymond Loewy House at 600 Panorama Rd. Hoffmann writes, "The house of boulders was never built, and perhaps was more nearly intended as a chance for Wright to show what he might have done had E. J. Kaufmann not gone to Neutra: the difference, that is, between "organic" architecture and the International Style, or what Neutra chose to call his "biorealism."
Wilk states, "His 'Boulder House' surrounded by desert rocks and with a plan based upon circular motifs (including a moat-like swimming pool) was not built, perhaps owing to Edgar Kaufmann's ill health - a prime reason for his spending more time in the desert climate - or difficulties with his marriage. Wright referred to the design as a rare and beautiful thing. One of my very best." This block of Palm Springs' Little Tuscany would have been an even more distinguished architectural neighborhood indeed if Wright's 'Boulder House' had only been built.
(excerpted from the bibliography retrievable at the link below)
All photos by Julius Shulman unless noted. Click on image to enlarge. Full credits given in the bibliography at the bottom link.
I would like to acknowledge Julius Shulman for the inspiration to create this bibliography. As I gradually became an avid fan and collector of material pertaining to Southern California modernist architecture over the last few years, I grew to appreciate the great importance of Shulman’s legacy in chronicling its evolution and growth. I also started to realize the ubiquitousness of his images in the architectural literature and on the covers of same. I approached him a few years back and asked if he had ever thought of doing a book which would collect all of the covers from books, shelter magazines, and architectural journals that his photos have graced. He liked the idea and invited me up to his idyllic Raphael Soriano-designed studio in the Hollywood Hills. After an introductory chat he told me to open the doors to his closet and pull down some of the dusty old 8X10 Kodak film storage boxes from the top shelf. They were stuffed to the gills with clippings and tear sheets he had saved over the years from various articles containing his photos. As we rummaged we found numerous covers he had long forgotten about and which I had never seen.
American Glamour and the Evolution of Modern Architecture by Alice T. Friedman. Slim Aarons photo, 1970.
Landscape Architecture: The Shaping of Man's Natural Environment by John Ormsbee Simonds, McGraw-Hill, 1961.Neutra and Shulman’s careers are so intertwined that one really cannot be researched without the other. Therefore, while I was assembling Shulman’s bibliography it made sense to me to concurrently create another for Neutra. This has led to a Neutra annotated bibliography comprised of over 5,000 entries to date, about 40% of which contain Shulman photos. Likewise, roughly 30% of Shulman’s bibliography items contain photos of work by Neutra. Neutra’s proficiency at self-promotion while at the same time educating the masses in his unique form of a nature-based modernism he termed "Biorealism" is evidenced by the over 2,000 articles containing Shulman photos resulting from only about 225 assignments. Neutra always ordered 10 sets of prints, split them up and distributed them to editors all over the world and ordered many reprints of selected projects.
Richard Neutra on Building: Mystery & Realities of the Site, Morgan & Morgan, 1951.
Richard Neutra: The Kaufmann House, Christie's, 2010.
No bibliography is ever truly complete, especially one involving the work of publishing dynamos of the likes of Richard Neutra and Julius Shulman. This bibliography collects Kaufmann House-related items from all existing Neutra bibliographies and books by or about Neutra and countless modern architecture histories and anthologies. Despite my exhaustive on-line database searches, cover-to-cover journal and magazine searches at local research institutions and libraries, Neutra and Shulman archival searches at the UCLA Charles Young Research Library and Getty Research Institute, respectively, there is yet much material to be mined on these two idols of modernism in the research libraries of the world. Consequently this document should best be viewed as an attempt to stimulate further in-depth research on the Kaufmann House and possibly provide a starting point for a book on the subject. It is my intention to periodically update this compilation as new material continues to be uncovered. Internet searches for the Kaufmann House uncover thousands of additional references. Suggestions for improvements and submissions of new items are always welcomed. My contact information is on the title page.
Link to Bibliography: