An exhibition of blackboard drawings by Rudolf Steiner, founder of the esoteric philosphical movement known as Anthroposophy, is on view in Gallery 3.
Produced between 1919 and 1924, during Steiner's lectures as visual complements to verbal instruction, these drawings were intended to represent various aspects of Steiner's Anthroposophical credo. Steiner traveled extensively throughout Europe, giving over five thousand lectures on subjects as varied as spirituality, aesthetics, agriculture, and education. In 1919, Steiner's colleague Emma Stolle began placing sheets of black paper over the blackboard's that Steiner used in his talks, and then dating and storing the resulting works on paper. The following is an excerpt from the lecture that accompanied the creation of the drawing made on August 12, 1924:
"You look at a plant and you say to yourself: I am a being of which I see only a mirror image, an inessential reflection, while on Earth. The more I turn my gaze to the stars, the more I see the true being up there. Nature is revealed in its entirety only when I look up from the Earth to the stars, when I consider the Earth and the cosmos as one. Then I can look back to myself as a human being and say: that which in the planst reaches up to the heavens has been compressed into myself on Earth. As a human being, I carry the physical world, the soul world, and the spiritual world."
This exhibition will focus on the drawings' remarkable aesthetic dimensions, presenting selected examples in which Steiner's highly influential occult theories are expressed with astonishing beauty and vitality. Made with colored chalk on black paper, the drawings are highly gestural, often virtually abstract, and appear remarkably contemporary. This exhibition marks the first presentation of Steiner's blackboard drawings in the United States.
This exhibition has been made possible by the generous assistance of Pro Helvetia; Weleda AG, Heilmittelbetreibe Schwabisch Gmund; The Alessandro Foundation, and The Columbia Foundation. Special thanks to Consul General Alfred Bahler of the Consulate General of Switzerland in San Francisco for his support.