Rudolf Steiner Archive 


The Goetheanum.

The School of Spiritual Science at Dornach
in Switzerland.

The articles and plates presented here are exerpts from the book “The Fruits of Anthroposophy — an Introduction to The Work of Dr. Rudolf Steiner”, published in 1922 by The Threefold Commonwealth, London. The book was compiled and edited by George Kaufmann, M.A. Cantab.

Short descriptions of the Goetheanun Building have already been given in this book. (See “The New Impulse in Art”). For a fuller description, we would refer particularly to the beautiful essay by Ernst Uehli in the booklet “Rudolf Steiner as Artist,” from which, by kind permission and assistance of the Publishers (Der Kommende Tag Publishing Co., Stuttgart) the illustrations to the present volume are taken. A translation of Emst Uehli's booklet will, it is hoped, be published shortly. (See bibliography, 255; also 69 and 988). A brief explanation of the five Plates in this book will here be given: —

The Goetheanum, being entirely new in its whole architectural conception, presents a variety of new and interesting features in technical and artistic detail of execution. We may mention, for example, the plastic treatment of that most modern of materials — cement or concrete. This will be seen, for example, in the forms of the staircase (Plate III). So too there is the wonderfully bold treatment of great carved masses of wood, layer upon layer — over the windows and portals in the exterior, and in the interior the architrave and capitals (Plate IV. and Plate V.). Here the artistic use of the material is most powerful. The surfaces are not smoothed over; the lines of the chisel-cut remain visible, and contribute to the living line and flow of form of the whole.

The windows too are new in conception and execution. Each (triple) window consists of great single panes of coloured glass, exceedingly thick. In the auditorium, the four triple windows on either side, passing from West to East, are green, blue, purple and pale rose colour in succession. There is also a dark crimson coloured window looking outwards from the western porch. The several pictures on the single slabs of glass (cf. above, pp. 90-91) are carved out by a special process; the sunlight striking through brings out the picture in relief — the light shines through most brightly where the glass is most deeply carved away. In the interior the different coloured lights, raying in from different directions and playing on the natural uncoloured surface of the wood, give rise to a wonderful play of coloured lights and shadows. In this way Goethe's conception of “colours as the deeds of light” becomes artistically realised in infinite variety. The sunlight is the artist; the windows themselves are, as it were, the score.

The paintings in the domes over the auditorium and stage are also worked entirely in “sunlight” colours; i.e., in colours directly extracted from plants. These colours, many of which are new, were manufactured in a smell experimental laboratory on the spot. New inventions, or improvements on old ones, are also involved in the compound beneath the painting, in the cold glue that binds the thousands of planks to form the massive wooden structure, and in other technicalities. The intersection of the two hemispherical domes without extra support is a new and very interesting feat in architectural engineering.

The Goetheanum is open to the public at stated hours throughout the year; hundreds of people from Bâle, and strangers passing through, go out to Dornach every week. Parties are regularly conducted round the building, and at the large public gatherings (see below, section IV.) Dr. Steiner himself explains its artistic conception. and the details of its construction. English residents and workers will explain the building to English-speaking visitors. (Note 1)

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