Below is an email message I received from Lightforms Art Center. I do not really known much about Albert Steffen’s Artistic work though I have read about his life and some of his writing, but this was years ago. In retrospect I can see his influence among anthroposophic artists. I have been aware of Gerard Wagner work for a while and if my memory is clear, I did some of his painting exercises several decades ago. Hilma af Klint, I have posted about in the past. Her work, though it effects me strongly, as does abstract art in general, I have not been initiated into her content and do not feel that I can truly speak about her work with any clarity, other than the feeling content, and by assessing the elements and principles of art and design within the work. These come out of modernist deconstruction but have their usefulness, especially if one does not simply use them to dissect without any feeling or thought for the overall intention of the artist. I will investigate Albert Steffen’s artistic practice more and perhaps post on my findings later. I may also write about Gerard Wagner as well.
Hilma af Klint, Albert Steffen, Gerard Wagner For the second half of our Hilma af Klint Show The Spiritual and the Divinewe are excited to pair Hilma af Klint’s work with two of her contemporaries: Albert Steffen and Gerard Wagner who worked in Dornach, Switzerland at the same time, creating art works inspired by the lectures, indications on the inner path and artistic work of Rudolf Steiner. We selected paintings of both Steffen and Wagner that touch on the same themes as the Hilma af Klint series here in the gallery at Lightforms. Plants, angels, nature beings and trees. The Tree of Knowledge Series by Hilma af Klint is an abstracted version of a tree in which flowers, birds and angels feature prominently. The striking difference of the style, approach and artistic expression of each artist is a strong testament to the ethical individualism that Rudolf Steiner encouraged with his writings, lectures and private consultations. We hope that the comparative juxtaposition of showing these three artists simultaneously is offering a small glimpse into the lively interactions of the members of the anthroposophical society in the early days of its existence.
There are sometimes long periods between my posts. This time it has been unusually long. However, as I have returned to Brownsville and visiting the libraries here and preparing for classes, I came across a very good book:
Wharton Esherick: The Journey of a Creative Mind
By Mansfield Bascom
Publisher Harry N. Abrams, 2010
ISBN 0810995751, 9780810995758
Length 276 pages
I have been moderately aware of Wharton Esherick’s work and have come across it on several occasions. Without reading or knowing much about his work, other than an article I clipped and saved years ago, I thought to myself how he had some stylistic characteristics in his work that reminded me of other artists influenced by Rudolf Steiner and the impulses coming from Anthroposophical art. This could be said of many 20th century artists that only ever encountered these indirectly. I was not sure which was true about Esherick. Recently I found his biography, written upon request by his son-in-law, Mansfield Bascom, in The UTRGV library in Brownsville. 6 pages in the Book briefly reference Steiner in several places indicating that he had been influenced by Steiner. Apparently from the writing it was a direct influence not so much from Steiner’s verbal teachings, but from the artistic expressions, Eurythmy, the architectural and sculptural forms, and specifically the Group sculpture.
Here is yet another 20th artist, a modernist, and an American, that can be linked to the influences of Anthroposophy, with some obvious innate affinity, even if it is not an affinity with Steiner’s occult teachings. In a way, this is paradoxical, because art is often the most occult of teachers or teachings. I have noticed this is often the case and it goes along with what Steiner has said on occasion. One does not make converts by forcing ideas on those who have already long been on a distinctive path of their own. Athroposophy from the beginnings has mingled with other paths. The Bauhaus is a prime example where Anthroposophy has an influence but is not the only influence at work. It is important to remember that Steiner stated it matters most that art express the spirit and that specific style was less important.
I have decided to retire the Hilma af Klint page for a while for various reasons until I can adequately access the works and make sure the images are in the public domain. Until then here is a link to the Google search for her work: Hilma af Klint.
Svanen – Hilma af Klint
HILMA AF KLINT Previous Image Next Image 02 / 09 The Ten Largest, No. 3 Youth, Group IV, 1907 Hilma af Klint