Julius Shulman's Classic Photos of California Modernism Get Personalized in Amy Park's Colorful Paintings

Amy Park, "John Nash Anderson's Muir Dawson House, 1956, Silverlake, CA," 2011 (detail)
(© Amy Park / Courtesy Kopeikin Gallery )

In its mid-century beginnings, California Modernist architecture was blessed with the sympathies of a talented photographer named Julius Shulman (1910-2009). Shulman’s iconic images of buildings by Charles Eames, Richard Neutra, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Pierre Koenig empowered an entire local design movement. His compositions awakened the masses to the ideas, hopes, and visions behind the façades of his subjects. It was Shulman who pioneered architectural photography as its own distinctive art form.

Now, half a century later, Shulman’s imagery is making a leap into an entirely new medium: watercolor. In a just-opened show at Los Angeles’s Kopeikin Gallery, New York artist Amy Park debuts her large-scale watercolor paintings based on Shulman’s oeuvre. “California Experimental Architecture” features 20 paintings depicting snapshots of buildings such as John Lautner’s Chemosphere and the famous Eames House in the Pacific Palisades.

Most dazzling of all — particularly for those who know Shulman's iconic photos — is Park’s use of color. She has deliberately chosen to work with Shulman’s black-and-white photographs, opting for lesser-known works from Shulman’s archive and introducing colors into the images based on her personal recollection of the buildings. As with Shulman’s original photographs, Park’s paintings capture an idyllic lifestyle that is unattainable, now more than ever.

To see images from “California Experimental Architecture” at the Kopeikin Gallery, click on the slide show. 

The exhibition runs through July 7.