Toward a New Theory of Architecture

The First Goetheanum in Pictures (CW 290)

Toward a New Theory of Architecture

By:  Steiner, Rudolf
Kettle, John
Amrine, Frederick

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226 pg

ARCHITECTURE / History / Modern (late 19th Century to 1945)

An introductory lecture with slides, Bern, Switzerland, June 29, 1921 (CW 290)

Rudolf Steiner gave thousands of lectures in his lifetime, usually without notes, and, with very few exceptions, with nothing more than chalk and a blackboard if he chose to accompany his speech with some kind of visual illustration. A notable exception is the presentation that constitutes the main part of this book. Given in June 1921, in Bern just eighteen months before its tragic destruction by fire, this lecture and slide show (consisting of a hundred slides) is both the closest thing we have to a guided tour of the original Goetheanum by its architect and a profound statement of artistic purpose.

In addition to the lecture and slide show that comprise the main content of this volume, the introduction by John Kettle serves to place Steiner’s artistic contribution to architecture in the context of early twentieth-century Expressionism and Organicism. Frederick Amrine’s thorough bibliographic essay highlights the most important secondary literature on Steiner’s architecture and provides a sound entry to further exploration and study.

C O N T E N T S:

Introduction: “The Architecture of the Future” by John Kettle

“Goethe and Goetheanism” essay in Das Goetheanum, March 25, 1923
“The Architectural Idea of the First Goetheanum”: lecture with slides in Bern, June 29, 1921

Appendix 1: Addendum to the Discussion of Slide 7
Appendix 2: Emil Berger’s “Urachromes” of the Paintings in the Cupolas
Appendix 3: Color Drawings by van Bemmelen
Appendix 4: Bibliographic Essay by Frederick Amrine 

This book is translated from the 3rd revised German edition, Das Goetheanum als Gesamtkunstwerk: Rudolf Steiner, Der Baugedanke des Goetheanum: Einleitender Vortrag mit Erklärungen zu den Lichtbildern des Goetheanum-Baues gehalten in Bern am 29. Juni 1921,Verlag am Goetheanum, 1986.

Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) was born in the small village of Kraljevec, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now in Croatia), where he grew up (see right). As a young man, he lived in Weimar and Berlin, where he became a well-published scientific, literary, and philosophical scholar, known especially for his work with Goethe’s scientific writings. At the beginning of the twentieth century, he began to develop his early philosophical principles into an approach to systematic research into psychological and spiritual phenomena. Formally beginning his spiritual teaching career under the auspices of the Theosophical Society, Steiner came to use the term Anthroposophy (and spiritual science) for his philosophy, spiritual research, and findings. The influence of Steiner’s multifaceted genius has led to innovative and holistic approaches in medicine, various therapies, philosophy, religious renewal, Waldorf education, education for special needs, threefold economics, biodynamic agriculture, Goethean science, architecture, and the arts of drama, speech, and eurythmy. In 1924, Rudolf Steiner founded the General Anthroposophical Society, which today has branches throughout the world. He died in Dornach, Switzerland.

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Frederick Amrine is associate professor of German at the University of Michigan. He holds advanced degrees from Cambridge University and Harvard. His publications include Goethe and the Sciences: A Reappraisal, The Bildungsroman, and Literature and Science as Modes of Expression. He has translated several works by Rudolf Steiner.