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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

GA 291


By Marie Steiner
(A Free Rendering)

In these pamphlets are appearing the many sayings and utterances upon the nature of art given by Rudolf Steiner to the painters of the Goetheanum in a form never intended for the printed book, but born from what was demanded by the task of the moment. They purport to be the living conversation of the teacher with his pupils where answers were given to questions and desires, and where uncertainties and confusions were cleared away by oft-repeated explanation. The Lectures were stenographed, and we know how often by a slip or slight nuance the vitality and fire of an expression may be missed, but even then in their fresh and limpid nature they are of more value than they would be if forced within a stiff, pedantic style.And, therefore, I feel it my duty to make available in their unspoiled condition the treasures Rudolf Steiner has left with their mighty impulse for a rejuvenation of science, knowledge and art.

Herostratos (the incendiary of Ephesus) can claim a triumph that the wonderful floods of colour exist no more in the cupolas of the Goetheanum! The thoughts and impulses, however, will acquire a double strength from out of the fire itself. The sketches and designs and hints for the composition and colour, and the pictures for the programs of the artistic performances at the Goetheanum have been beautifully reproduced by Messrs Hanfstaengel at Munich and Alinari at Florence.

Frau Dr. Steiner says: “In the summer of 1903 in a number of lessons on the Theory of Colour, Rudolf Steiner, with the help of the flame of a candle and a sheet of paper, showed me the origin of yellow and blue out of light and darkness, and as his eyes shone in happy identification with the subject of discussion he exclaimed:

‘If I now had but ten thousand marks and the necessary instruments I could prove to the world the truth of Goethe's Theory of Colour.’”

The ten thousand marks were not to be had, and Rudolf Steiner's pupils have been left the task and the opportunity of bringing this proof to recognition.

Rudolf Steiner wished to use Goethe's Theory of Colour and his concept of nature as a foundation for a universal world conception; and in 1885 and 1897 he gave evidence of this in his introduction to Goethe's scientific works appearing in Kürschners Ausgabe. (This corresponds to the Everyman's Library

The dogma of natural science and the ossification of philosophic thought prevented the call of Rudolf Steiner from being sufficiently noticed. He had to seek other ways for breaking the numbness of modern thought and loosening the stiff compulsion of its formalism. What he did do cannot be better expressed than in the words of one of his own mystery plays:

“He saw full well that spirit science must
First find a firm foundation, and for this
The sense of science and strict reasoning
Must be released from mania for set form
Through contact with an artist mind, and gain
The inward strength to realize the truth
Of world-relationship in life and deed.”

The Guardian of the Threshold