Conference "The smaller Dome, an unknown Being" (11.2017)

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A Conference for Class-members of the Visual Arts Section.

Whereas the May conference was devoted to contemporary themes, this conference, which took place between 16 and 19 November 2017, focussed on the anthroposophical art impulse. In the past years we concentrated on the larger dome of the first Goetheanum, and the planetary forces portrayed in the capitals. This time we turned towards the smaller dome, which is less known and has raised many questions. So the conference encouraged inquiry, research and especially dialogue. Individual contributions began to interact and this then led to a perceivable understanding of the spiritual reality. 

Alexander Schaumann’s opening talk focussed on the different qualities of the sculptured expression. The capitals of the larger dome seem to have been created out of surplus forces, letting  a new impulse become visible each time one evolves out of the one before. The capitals of the smaller dome show a sculpted figure placed on a background, which seems to demand that the viewer jumps from one to the next. When you let your eye wander along the whole row, understanding begins to grow. A sixfold differentiation manifests itself in the relation between the upper and lower parts of each capital and these correspond accordingly with the thrones and the capitals on the other side. These thrones were placed separately in front of each column. One can’t recognise any evolutionary development, instead they seem to formulate a position and express differing approaches, yet on experiencing the wholeness of the sculpted space they begin to enhance each other. 

Elke Dominiks talk was a highlight. She called the columns and capitals of the smaller dome “light-columns” and characterised the different gestures of the thrones. The first one opens up and contracts slightly before the front widens energetically with the siding triangular columns. In the upper part it grows narrower, creating a special space, when a sharp horizontal groove heightens the roofing pentagon shape at the back, before it touches the column behind. In this way the seat emerges comfortably and accommodatingly. 

She demonstrated how the process of sculpting developed, and by looking at it in this way one begins to experience the building as an interplay of various forces. The singular motifs form knots, allowing the thrones to take on an atmosphere of presentness. The widening space between the columns seems to gain a mystery quality, rising up and revealing the open space in the middle. In Elke Dominiks descriptions one felt the intensity of fifty years of sculpting experience. 

In his closing lecture Alexander Schauman began to describe, what he called, his night experiences. He devoted himself to sensing the stage opening framing that which lies behind. He described the sculpted motifs of the larger dome on the principle of centre and periphery, metamorphosing them step-by-step. He then described an imaginative experience elucidating frontality in relation to the above and below as well as to the left and right. This element becomes clearly visible in the sculpted figure of the centre group, but also in the painted centre motif and the complementary colours of the two halves of the dome. 

The viewer looks at the thrones straight on, but they differ in their directions in relation to the stage-opening and toward the sculpted group and the painted centre figure. They form a background space which does not manifest itself in the realm of time as it does in the larger dome, but seems to integrate positions and directions in created space. This space is determined by radial and vertical relations and is neither empty, nor does it expand in its three dimensions. The characterised life of the centre and periphery principle seems to have been lost, but it reemerges in the appearance of the created colour of the paintings of the smaller dome. He concluded by mentioning three forms of ‚I’: The ‚I’ that discovers itself as an evolving being; the ‚I‘ that experiences itself in its relationships; and then the creative ‚I’ that comes back to you as a new being, again and again. 

Alexander Schaumann