Lautner, John Edward (1911–1994) By Bryant-Mole, Bart
While the American architect John Lautner may not have considered himself a modernist, he nevertheless made a significant contribution to the branch of modernist architecture that emerged in Southern California during the mid-twentieth century, pioneered by architects such as Rudolph Schindler, Richard Neutra, and Frank Lloyd Wright. Though he was wary of being seen as an imitator of Wright, under whom he had worked as an apprentice for six years, Lautner’s work does reflect several of his mentor’s architectural principles, such as flowing space, harmony with nature, and site-specific designs. Lautner’s visually arresting buildings, however, took these ideas further than ever before. His ambitious projects, as well as being architecturally innovative, were feats of modern engineering. These daring structures stood in stark contrast to the minimal, machine-influenced International Style buildings that had dominated modernist architecture since the 1930s. Lautner’s residential projects, in particular, gained widespread attention through the photography of Julius Shulman, their appearance in Hollywood films, and their endorsement by the rich and famous of Los Angeles. While contemporaneous critics were divided in their opinions of Lautner’s work, he later achieved international acknowledgment and respect, and is now considered an important figure within the Mid-Century Modern design movement.