One year after the death of Rudolf Steiner, three years after the burning of the first Goetheanum, there was a strong spirit of constructive activity on the Dornach hill. The masterful concrete architecture of the second Goetheanum stood half-finished in its skeleton of planks and boards. The work towards its completion was in the process of being fulfilled.
The fundamental concept of building, which was the impulse, did not confine itself only to the architecture of a building. In all fields of artistic and spiritual life the underlying ‘principle of building’ was being established, as such. This kind of ‘building’ works into the future, extending from generation to generation, and each one who takes part in it for a time, carries in his own inner forces an impulse for the culmination of the whole work.
The young artist, not yet knowing the language, relied almost totally on his sense of sight. He was taken to Rudolf Steiner’s models and those of his co-workers, who had carried out the work. He saw the buildings which were the result of those plans and the beauty of their living proportions.
He was given the honour to observe the engraving of the coloured glass windows done by Assja Turgenieff and her co-workers. There, light lived in colour, as if it were speaking. The intense red, green, blue, violet and rose illuminated the light-cut patterns of the occult motifs in the windows.
The sculptors Oswald Dubach and Carl Kemper were working on models of the building. Albert von Baravalle showed his fine sketches and models which principally concerned the west façade. Scott Pyle and Jan Stuten were painting scenery for the first Mystery Drama, for which Marie Steiner and the actors were rehearsing. At these rehearsals, as well as those for Eurythmy, Gerard Wagner was often present. Without realising it with full consciousness, he felt the impulse – how, united as one, each person could attain to more than that which he or she could have attained singly. And the impressions from the stage at these moments when, out of innermost activity and true selflessness, an experience of sound was imparted were especially wonderful. He could believe, in such instances, that the true goals of humanity were to be experienced.
The centre of work was the ‘Schreinerei’ (wood working) hall. During the day, there was not only the machinery of the builders, but at the same time, a good deal of the artistic and administrative work going on in the most limited space imaginable. Here the carving of the great portals for the Goetheanum took place, as well as the rehearsals for actors and eurythmists, and all lectures and artistic events.
On the wooden walls in the Schreinerei hall every Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon were the programme posters for the artistic performances: large water-colour paintings which Henni Geck had fashioned in accordance with the Motif Sketches of Rudolf Steiner. These paintings made an enormous impression on the young painter. Such satiety of colourful glowing lights, such certainty in the forming forces, had he never before seen. These motifs were not taken from the world of the senses which he had observed until then. They were unique, complete in their form and their captivating effect, without a trace of naturalism: a totally new art of painting. On the background of this many-sided spiritual and artistic activity can the path of Gerard Wagner’s painting be viewed. The particular originality of his development would be unimaginable in any other setting. Constant study and contemplation of the artistic originals of Rudolf Steiner’s sculptural and architectural models, sketches and paintings – the direct experience, which could only be conveyed through the presence of the originals: these were the conditions required in order that the new artistic and spiritual impulses would not only be present in thought but could be grasped through the entire living organism. In this place nothing of the past teachings could be connected. All the forces of the young painter’s talent were given over to new purposes. And, thus, the work of Gerard Wagner cannot be separated, either in method or meaning, from those wellsprings of which he had just become conscious: the living source of Anthroposophy.
© Copyright 2005 Katherine Rudolph, Exploring The Word in Colour and Speech