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The Best Of Ezra Stoller, Modern Architecture’s Master Photographer

Photographer Ezra Stoller captured some of the most recognizable architectural landmarks of the modern era on camera. Stoller, who died in 2004, was the first recipient of the American Institute of Architects’ Gold Medal for Photography in 1961, and has been called “the chief enabler of our experiences of Modern architecture.” As the AIA wrote on the occasion of his death, “Often, the image we carry in our mind’s eye of any particular great building was first seen through a lens by Ezra Stoller.”

His photos, with their dramatic lighting and geometrical emphasis, underpin a new exhibit at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, Architecture + Photography that aims to explore the common ground between the two worlds.

Whitney Museum Interior, 1966. © Ezra Stoller/Esto/Yossi Milo GalleryCourtesy of Carnegie Museum of Art

Stoller’s images of architectural masterpieces like Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building, and Eero Saarinen’s TWA Terminal at JFK airport “helped shape public understanding of architectural Modernism,” according to the Carnegie Museum of Art. He cast his subjects in meticulously flattering light, foregrounding the clean lines and structural flourishes of modern buildings as carefully as the architect probably sketched them in the original design.

Stoller, who attended architecture school before becoming a photographer, produced more than 50,000 images in his lifetime, founding the architectural photography agency Esto. Architects were so enamored of his work, they referred to a building being “Stollerized” if he had photographed it. Here are just a tiny fraction of the icons he Stollerized.

The photos are on display as part of Architecture + Photography at the Carnegie Museum of Art April 12–May 26.

*Due to an editing error, the original version of this article misspelled the photographer’s name. It is Stoller, not Stoll.SF