About Goetheanum

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“So when many visitors to the Goetheanum, and especially folks who have not visited but heard stories about it, slander our building in Dornach and say that what one finds there is this or that allegorical, symbolic mode of depiction, then that’s just what it is – a slander. There isn’t a single symbol anywhere in the building in Dornach. Everything depicted there has flowed directly from artistic feeling into form. And it really is the case that I feel I’m offering a cheap substitute whenever people assume that I will explain the building in Dornach with words. To be sure, when lecturing outside of Dornach we can talk about the building in the way that we lecture for example on various episodes in the history of art. But when people are experiencing the building in Dornach directly, then I always feel that it’s actually a kind of cheap substitute if I go on and try to explain the experience in words. An explanation of this kind is actually necessary only in the way that one needs to explain, shall we say, the Sistine Madonna: people need to learn the vocabulary of the worldview out of which our artistic forms have arisen, in the same way that Raphael’s painting has emanated from the Christian worldview. In both cases, it’s not that something is being symbolized, but rather that something of the nature of an idea has really lived as a feeling within the artist.” #
Rudolf Steiner, a creator of the Goetheanum

Can anything else be said about the Goetheanum after these words?

Encyclopedic data could provide as few information for understanding this building as dry facts of the biography of Raphael and the techniques that he used could say about the Madonna. Yes, we can be impressed by the fact that two huge interpenetrating cylinders, which covered by domes in extremely unusual manner even for our time, are entirely made of wood and reach a total volume of six thousand cubic meters – just like the work of Raphael is more than five square meters on canvas and impresses by its size. It makes us wonder, but says nothing about the essence of the work of art.

The name of Rudolf Steiner is associated with anthroposophy – a science about spirit. However, the Goetheanum’s name is dedicated not to him, but to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, so the direction of architecture that inspired this building is also known as goetheanistic.

In modern Eastern Europe, most people don't know much about Goethe – we know him as a German writer, we can say about "Faust" for sure, but it would be hard to remember something else. Nevertheless, we are interested in considering Goethe from the point of view of his contribution to science, a doctrine of metamorphosis and a doctrine of color. Goethe's “Color theory” was not accepted by physicists – however, Goethe shifted the emphasis from the optical phenomenon of color to its perception, which is rather not physics, but philosophy. Goethe's famous words are: "Art is a manifestation of secret laws of nature, that, except for the phenomenon of the beautiful, would have remained forever hidden to us." He believed that there are "laws that cannot be formulated on the basis of scientific methods, and they can be realized only through art and with the help of art... All types of art, including architecture, express what cannot be expressed in any other way." #

The creator of the Goetheanum considered Goethe to be a “Founder of the New Aesthetics”, he understood the purpose of construction as an expression of an “essence of organic design”, and so well during the construction works he gave lectures, where he called for the formation of a fundamentally new architectural style. It is also noteworthy that "he believed that the constructed structure is only an external form, since the real building is what is formed in the process of construction."

On the one hand, it is infinitely important that people gathered around an idea build something more than just a building. On the other hand, there is a Christian point of view, that it was the building of the Goetheanum as an artistic image that allowed contemplation to approach the knowledge of Christ, and this is exactly what humanity cannot really do, otherwise there would be no wars at all, and even more so there would be no wars that are blessed by church hierarchs.

By the way, the Goetheanum was being built during the war – starting in 1913, and its construction, especially considering the necessary volumes of wood supplies, was significantly slowed down by the war catastrophe.

In 1922, the Goetheanum burned down because of an arson attack, motives of which have remained unclear. In its place, another one was built, the "second" one – no longer from wood, but from concrete. In terms of art, this is, of course, a completely different work, and for such an important full-fledged contemplation, the “first” Goetheanum have been lost.