The John Lautner Foundation is pleased to present the John Lautner Turns 100 series this July 16-November 13, 2011. In celebration of what would have been John Lautner’s 100th birthday on July 16, 2011, the series will showcase Lautner’s extraordinary body of work while informing and inspiring the public about the importance of preserving it. Taking place in Los Angeles, California and Marquette, Michigan, programming includes exhibitions, film screenings, home tours, symposia, receptions, and more.
When he arrived in Los Angeles, the architect John Lautner said that he was so shocked that he was physically ill for a year. “It was so ugly,” he said of the city where, for the next 50 years or so, he nonetheless built some of the most celebrated buildings of the 20th century. The John Lautner house in Los Angeles known as the Chemosphere, which appeared in Brian De Palma's “Body Double.” I didn’t throw up when I moved to Los Angeles, though it did initially bring to mind Nathanael West’s dyspeptic take on the city in “The Day of the Locust,” with its “Mexican ranch houses, Samoan huts, Mediterranean villas, Egyptian and Japanese temples, Swiss chalets, Tudor cottages and every possible combination of these styles.”
Since then, though, I’ve grown to love the city’s funky pastiches and I’ve also discovered its modern masterworks, including those by Lautner; his teacher, Frank Lloyd Wright; and that Lautner fan Frank Gehry.
Lautner, who died in 1994, could rail bitterly about the jerry-built quality of the buildings in Los Angeles, pinning some of their shoddiness on the movies, likening them to sets. Yet the city and its environs proved a great stage where he could put his ideas into sensuous form, as you can see in the residences that, in turn, became film locations. These include the 1949 redwood-and-glass Schaffer house (it’s where Colin Firth’s character lives in “A Single Man”) and the 1960 space age pad called the Chemosphere, an elevated wonderment that looks as if it were built for the Jetsons and pops up in Brian De Palma’s “Body Double.”
“Houses,” Lautner said, “are built for the people who live in them” (and those of us who can only peek at them from the outside). His work and that ethos are at the center of “John Lautner Turns 100,” a celebration that begins on what would have been his centenary, this Saturday, and includes exhibitions, talks, a symposium, tours and documentaries. Some of these events will take place in Marquette, Mich., where he was born, but most are happening in ugly, beautiful Los Angeles. We’ll see you there. - NYT