book review : selwyn pullan

if you have even a small affinity with vancouver modernism, after picking this book up, you will not be able to put it down or walk out the store without it!

Book synopsis:

The stark beauty of an iconic architectural movement is captured in this rare collection of stunning images.

As an emerging photographer in the 1950s and ’60s, Selwyn Pullan played an important role in popularizing the new style of West Coast modernist architecture.

His photographs capturing Vancouver’s rapidly changing urban landscape appeared regularly in magazines and architectural journals, and helped tout the bold, dramatic architectural ideas thriving on the West Coast. Pullan became known for his ability to contextualize the work of architects through unique composition and tonal range.

He photographed projects for B.C.’s leading architects of the era, including Ron Thom, Fred Hollingsworth, C.E Pratt, Arthur Erickson and Barry Downs. Today, as Vancouver’s architectural landscape changes again, his photographs are all that remain of many of these projects, now demolished or altered beyond recognition. His archive forms a crucial record of a definitive architectural movement. Selwyn Pullan is the first full-length book dedicated to his compelling photographs. An extensive retrospective with beautifully reproduced images, this book’s illuminating texts also put the artist in historical and cultural context.

contributing writers in the book are kiriko watanabe, donald luxton, barry downs and adele weder, as well as the director/curator of west vancouver museum, darrin morrison. kiriko starts the book off with selwyn’s early days and his start in photography. donald’s chapter speaks of selwyn’s projects and west coast modernism as experiences during the 50s and 60s. barry’s chapter is entitled ‘master craftsman’ which at first may be misleading, but goes on to portray selwyn as a true artisan of the photographic image taking great deal in lighting, framing and positioning of his camera and the objects refracting though his lens. adele takes the perspective of his work from today’s point of view and ‘where they are now’ in regards to some of the buildings he has photographed and the future of mid-century modernism in vancouver.

the book is filled with fantastic photographs and will sure to please anyone interested in vancouver’s mid-century modernism.

read more about selwyn pullan here at ouno design blog.

the publisher, douglas & mcintyre, book webpage.

review of selwyn pullan on canadian art website.

go and get your copy early at hager books in kerrisdale (2176 west 41st avenue).

also available at,, oscar’s art books and other fine booksellers.

link to the tyee’s article on the book and exhibition.


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