Art as Spiritual Activity

Rudolf Steiner's Contribution to the Visual Arts

Rudolf Steiner

Edited and Introduced by Michael Howard


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It's hard to know where to focus my enthusiasm for this volume: whether to rest it upon Michael Howard's extensive introduction (over 100 pages) to the world of Rudolf Steiner's expression of the visual arts or upon the ten seminal lectures by Steiner himself, touching as they do upon everything from the nature of aesthetics to the specifics of painting, sculpture, architecture and more. Perhaps the best I can say is that if you've ever wondered or wanted to know more about the artistic impulse behind Anthroposophic art, this is the ideal place to begin your journey. It's hard for me to imagine anyone regretting it.

Goethe & Palladio

Goethe's study of the relationship between art and nature, leading through architecture to the discovery of the metamorphosis of plants

David Lowe/Simon Sharp



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The poet, dramatist, novelist, and scientist, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe had to wait many years before he was able to travel south to Italy, "the land where the lemon trees bloom." He had gained success in several fields, but he had a sense of being trapped and confined and felt a need for light. Italy would give this to him in a number of ways.

Taking as their basis Goethe’s Italian Journey, the authors of this fascinating and unusual study explore how Goethe’s experience of Palladio’s architecture influenced his view of the relationship between art and nature in general and, in particular, helped him form his understanding of metamorphosis, leading to his discovery of the “archetypal plant.”

In his carefully written account of his travels, Goethe seems to oscillate between experiences of architecture and experiences of nature. In nature, he searched for the "archetypal plant," the essential form whose metamorphosis through time would produce the plant we see in its cycle from seed to fruit. In the art and architecture of antiquity and in Palladio’s classical reformulation of it, he tried to understand the purpose and function of artistic creation.

Until now, no one has put these two together. David Lowe and Simon Sharp show for the first time how these seemingly unrelated subjects are related—how the living geometries and volumes of harmoniously proportioned buildings, the “great idea” of architecture, can lead to the intuition of similar principles in nature.

David Lowe and Simon Sharp have worked together for twenty-one years. One of their first projects was the recreation of Goethe’s Italian Journey. They have given numerous workshops and presentations on the subject in the U.S. and U.K., including The British Museum, the German Embassy, and the Edinburgh Festival.

This is must-reading for anyone interested in Goethe's ideas on plants and metamorphosis.

The Power of Limits

Proportional Harmonies in Nature, Art, and Architecture

György Doczi

Softbound, Large format, profusely illustrated


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One of the delights of life is the discovery and rediscovery of patterns of order and beauty in nature - the designs revealed by slicing through a head of cabbage or an orange, the forms of shells and butterfly wings.  These images are awesome not just for their beauty, but because they suggest an order underlying their growth, a harmony existing in nature.  What does it mean that such and order exists; how far does it extend?

The Power of Limits begins with such simple discoveries of harmony and goes on to investigate and measure hundreds of patterns -- ancient and modern, minute and vast.  Doczi's discovery, vividly illustrated here, is that certain proportions occur over and over again in all these forms.  Patterns are also repeated in how things grow and are made -- by the dynamic union of opposites -- as demonstrated by the spirals that move in opposite directions in the growth of a plant.

The joining of unity and diversity in the discipline of proportional limitations creates forms that are beautiful to us because they embody the principles of the cosmic order of which we are a part; conversely, the limitlessness of that order is revealed by the strictness of its forms.  The author shows how we, as humans, are included in the universal harmony of form, and suggests that the union of complementary opposites may be a way to extend that harmony to the psychological and social realms as well.

I personally see The Power of Limits as a revelation of the beauty and wisdom of limitation itself.  Each form is limited by its inner orderly nature as well as outer, imposed limitations.  Were such limitations not to exist, undifferentiated growth would manifest in everything and, frankly, beauty would never result; nor would function.  And there would be no possibility of and form of self-awareness arising from such a cacophony as would result without limits.  In other words, the harmony, order, and beauty that abounds everywhere would be impossible, as would human beings and nature itself as we know them.

I have lived with this book for almost 40 years and still find it one of the most profound studies ever published.  It is as revealing and wise as the forms it studies - I hope many, many people are able to experience it.

Many Mansions - The Spirit in Architecture

The Spirit in Architecture - A Creative Approach for Building Designers, Home/School Creators and Educators to Rudolf Steiner's Architectural Impulse

Alan Whitehead


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For all of you who have been asking, "Is there a book that describes guidelines for building Waldorf schools?" - here it is! There is also much more, but this remarkable little book presents more usable information than we've ever seen gathered in one place. If you are on the building committee of your school, or are blessed with the opportunity to build your own home, you'll want to take a look at Many Mansions. You'll come away with a wealth of ideas and understanding.


Sacred Geometry, Sacred Space

Gordon Strachan



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Chartres cathedral in France is one of the most important and popular sacred sites in Western Europe. The Rev. Strachan·s new study examines the spiritual geometry of the church and suggests its significance is connected to an ancient combination of pagan worship, earth energies and the mystical harmony of Christian and Islamic architecture. Highly recommended.

·The Cauldron, August 2003

In this ground-breaking new work, Gordon Strachan explores the magnificent structure of Chartres Cathedral and its influences on the medieval master builders.

Using Chartres as a starting point, Dr. Strachan shows how the origins of the Gothic style·the pointed arch·may lie in Islamic architecture. He goes on to a fascinating and detailed consideration of how a particular architectural space affects us, and how sacred geometry creates sacred space.