With the development of anthroposophical art,
Rudolf Steiner added a new dimension to the idea and meaning of art which is at
odds with some of the modern trends of artistic expression. Broadly speaking,
these have gone from the formal to the naturalistic (impressionism and realism),
and beyond this to the expressionistic, surrealistic, abstract, the stylistic
and finally out of the aesthetic realm altogether to mere social statements and
contrived psychological experiences which have been vaguely named "conceptual
art". Steiner, as with all of his avenues of exploration and expression, took
the spiritual realm as a concrete reality as the foundation for art. This was
not intended to be based on vague associations or ideas about what "spirit"
means; nor was it meant to suggest an unconscious or mediumistic device whereby
random expression is given to something unseen and unknown.
Steiner regarded art as the conscious aesthetic expression in the sensory realm
of the relationships and dynamics that exist in the spiritual realms. Such
expression by its very nature is not only aesthetic; it is also moral and
health-giving in its stimulus to the human soul. It strikes deep into the human
soul because it derives from experiences of the soul which it experienced before
birth and will again after death, experiences which enrich the soul and
stimulate the spirit.
Thus the painting of a natural form may convey what
is felt to exist within and around the form as its spiritual counterpart, for
example. A sculpture may convey a metamorphosis of the form in natural rhythms.
Whatever the form, it is the spiritual that underlies the form or experience
which is conveyed as essential within the overall artistic expression.
Steiner lectured at length on the different qualities of spiritual expression in
the various arts - painting and drawing, speech and drama, dance (eurythmy)
poetry, sculpture and architecture - and participated with other artists and
technicians in every one of them. His emphasis was always to help artists
develop the sensibilities to perceive what is spiritually intrinsic in every
nuance of line, form, colour, movement, pace, interval, rhythm, proportion, etc.
and to bring this perception into their work. This is not simply a personal and
arbitrarily subjective take on this or that element of art, but an actually
inwardly felt reading of the spiritual dynamic that exists behind the outward
form and gives rise to it. There is of course the personal style and mood of the
artist which adds its own individual characteristic for the artist's own
personality adds a uniqueness of expression to the effect of the artistic piece
whether it be a piece of music, a painting, or a work of architecture.
Infused with the life-giving qualities of the soul
and spirit, anthroposophical art can be experienced as living art and as such,
true food for the soul.
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