"Between Earth and Heaven," opening today at the Hammer Museum, traces architect John Lautner's lifelong quest to transcend the boundaries between shelter and nature. It also attempts to redefine the legacy of a seminal architectural pioneer so profoundly misunderstood that it took the exhibition's co-curator, Nicholas Olsberg, three months to decide whether to get involved at all.
Lautner did aim for altitude. One day in 1963, he walked out onto a Bel-Air cliff-top construction site and stood so perilously close to the edge that he was in danger of falling prey to a stray gust, to gravity itself. Yet he was calm, meditating on skyline and cityscape, like a stone angel on the parapet of a European opera house reaching for the gods. He seemed to embody his contention that "the purpose of architecture is to create timeless, free, joyous spaces for all activities in life."
Excerpted from the LA TIMES