Imagination, Inspiration, Intuition: Joseph Beuys & Rudolf Steiner is an important loan exhibition that examines the connections between the art of Joseph Beuys (1921-1986) and the teachings of Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925). Beuys’ Directive forces (Of a new society) (Richtkräfte (Einer neuen Gesellschaft)) 1974-77 from the Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, is a seminal installation of 100 blackboards and is on exhibition for the first time in Australia. It was created by this influential German artist during the exhibition Art into Society, Society into Art at the Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA), London in 1974. Forty-two of Steiner’s chalk drawings from between 1919 and 1924 will be exhibited with Beuys’ Richtkräfte, providing a unique opportunity for the general public to engage with the ideas of these two men through a visual medium.
As the founder of Anthroposophical Society, Steiner developed a complex philosophy that initiated Waldorf education, bio-organic agriculture, eurhythmy (a form of dance) and holistic medicine. From the Society’s headquarters at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland, Steiner disseminated his ideas across Europe giving over 5000 public lectures. This selection of drawings from the Rudolf Steiner Nachlassverwaltung in Dornach, which were created as visual aids to his public lectures, focus on Steiner’s world vision and his belief in the need for social reform.
Rudolf Steiner’s writings on politics, economics and intellectual freedom exerted an impact upon Beuys. In particular, Beuys’ theory of ‘social sculpture’ reflects the influence of Steiner in its insistence that creativity should be applied to all aspects of human endeavour. Building upon Steiner’s concept of ‘denkbilder’ or ‘thought drawings’, Beuys used chalk on board to communicate to his audience the basic principles of social sculpture – freedom, direct democracy and sustainable economic forms. Concerned with the intersection of art and politics, education and the development of the individual, this is an exhibition that will appeal to a wide range of people; from the general public, to those interested in German culture or Anthroposophy (National Gallery of Victoria – 2007). The impulse of the Social Sculpture Forum, Melbourne arose from this important exhibition.