«One must be able to think in colors and forms as one is able to think in terms and thoughts.»

Rudolph Steiner

Rudolf Steiner and the arts


The First Goetheanum

Rudolf Steiner’s artistic estate is directly related to his lectures. He describes the possibility to raise the ordinary, analyzing thinking to an active, artistic one: “One must be able to think in colors and forms as one is able to think in terms and thoughts.”

This quote refers to the first Goetheanum, the center for education, events and conferences of the Anthroposophical Society attempting to make its intention more tangible. This building, which was designed by Steiner, was meant to be consistent with everything that was discussed and presented there. The stage plays of Goethe’s Faust and Steiner’s mystery dramas were brought to live at different levels of arts through eurhythmy, speech formation and illumination. Architecture and design of the Goetheanum can thus be understood as reflection of the spiritual life taking place inside.

Sketches and drafts by Steiner served as inspiration for those who were constructing the building. Steiner did some hands-on work himself at the sculpture called ‘The Representative of Humanity’ which forms the center of the Goetheanum and is intended to embody the essence of the human being.

Steiner never understood himself as artist. He always emphasized that he wanted to provide suggestions and inspirations to arts which the artist themselves should bring to a professional end. For example, eurhythmy took concrete shape through the cooperation between Marie Steiner and Edith Maryon. In this respect, the quote mentioned at the beginning could be expanded to say that also thinking in gests and sounds is possible.

From understanding arts to the arts of understanding

Rudolf Steiner brings together thinking and arts by describing the act of understanding itself as something artistic which, if practiced artistically enough, can also bring insight into the spheres of arts.

Natural Sciences and Arts

According to Steiner, natural processes should be imagined as something movable and flexible. This approach would allow man to see beyond what is materially obvious and to discover himself in nature.

The base motifs in the great hall of the Goetheanum were created using this kind of imagination. Instead of depicting single parts of a plant, they bring the gest of life into a tangible form.

Moral Phantasy

If the human being becomes self-aware through active thinking, finds moral imagination and applies this appropriately into his daily routines, he will no longer be directed by others. He can act intuitively and artistically and will become authentic.

In this respect, the term ‘social sculpture’ which in the 1970s brought the relationship between creating a sculpture and shaping social conditions into consciousness, connects to Steiner’s ‘philosophy of freedom’.