Short descriptions of the Goetheanun Building have already
been given in this book. (See
“The New Impulse in Art”).
For a fuller description, we would refer particularly to the
beautiful essay by Ernst Uehli in the booklet “Rudolf Steiner
as Artist,” from which, by kind permission and assistance of
the Publishers (Der Kommende Tag Publishing Co., Stuttgart)
the illustrations to the present volume are taken. A
translation of Emst Uehli's booklet will, it is hoped, be
published shortly. (See bibliography, 255; also 69 and 988).
A brief explanation of the five Plates in this book will
here be given: —
The Goetheanum, being entirely new in its whole
architectural conception, presents a variety of new and
interesting features in technical and artistic detail of
execution. We may mention, for example, the plastic
treatment of that most modern of materials — cement or
concrete. This will be seen, for example, in the forms of
the staircase (Plate III). So too there is the
wonderfully bold treatment of great carved masses of wood, layer upon
layer — over the windows and portals in the exterior, and
in the interior the architrave and capitals
(Plate IV. and Plate V.).
Here the artistic use of the material is most powerful.
The surfaces are not smoothed over; the lines of the
chisel-cut remain visible, and contribute to the living line
and flow of form of the whole.
The windows too are new in conception and execution. Each
(triple) window consists of great single panes of coloured
glass, exceedingly thick. In the auditorium, the four triple
windows on either side, passing from West to East, are
green, blue, purple and pale rose colour in succession.
There is also a dark crimson coloured window looking
outwards from the western porch. The several pictures on the
single slabs of glass (cf. above, pp. 90-91) are carved out
by a special process; the sunlight striking through brings
out the picture in relief — the light shines through most
brightly where the glass is most deeply carved away. In the
interior the different coloured lights, raying in from
different directions and playing on the natural uncoloured
surface of the wood, give rise to a wonderful play of
coloured lights and shadows. In this way Goethe's conception
of “colours as the deeds of light” becomes artistically
realised in infinite variety. The sunlight is the artist;
the windows themselves are, as it were, the score.
The paintings in the domes over the auditorium and stage are
also worked entirely in “sunlight” colours; i.e., in colours
directly extracted from plants. These colours, many of which
are new, were manufactured in a smell experimental
laboratory on the spot. New inventions, or improvements on
old ones, are also involved in the compound beneath the
painting, in the cold glue that binds the thousands of
planks to form the massive wooden structure, and in other
technicalities. The intersection of the two hemispherical
domes without extra support is a new and very interesting
feat in architectural engineering.
The Goetheanum is open to the public at stated hours
throughout the year; hundreds of people from Bâle, and
strangers passing through, go out to Dornach every week.
Parties are regularly conducted round the building, and at
the large public gatherings (see below, section IV.) Dr.
Steiner himself explains its artistic conception. and the
details of its construction. English residents and workers
will explain the building to English-speaking visitors.