Wall blackboard drawings to lectures 1919-1924

After the exhibition of Otto Muehl in early summer of this year, Portikus Frankfurt for the second time presents an exclusively historical exhibition. This may seem unusual, as the shoe-box Portikus has become known for having the character of a workshop and being a venue for newest movements in contemporary art. Despite all prophecies of doom, there is as always no lack of interesting and important positions in today's art scene. If we do, however, at times fall back on specific historical material, it is to keep the visual memory of artists and audience in motion; to direct the view to works that may be fruitful and significant for the current examination of art.

This is not the place to introduce the comprehensive philosophical, literary and artistic work of the anthropologist and founder of the Waldorf schools Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925). It is little known that in the course of his manifold activities he complemented the more than 5000 freely held lectures with blackboard drawings. He often used the board to either emphasise a concept or date, or to imaginatively construct a complex idea and break it down according to a diagram. Often, initially simple sketches and diagrams were continuously developed during the course of a lecture until, in the end, an "imaginative, colourfully-flowing overall picture" (Assja Turgenieff) was created which could be directly and vividly experienced. Most of the blackboard drawings were erased after the lecture, until an attentive listener, Emma Stolle, saw to it that the provided blackboards were covered with black paper. On account of this a total of 1100 blackboard-formatted drawings (ca. 100 x 150 cm) were preserved after all. It was only in 1989 that the organisation in charge of the estate of Rudolf Steiner began publishing the first volumes, thus digging up a treasure the far-reaching consequences of which are yet to be established. It is not by chance that two former students of the Beuys-class, Walter Dahn and Johannes Stüttgen, decisively contributed to making a small part of Steiner's blackboard drawings publicly accessible for the first time at the Galerie Monika Sprüth, Cologne, in the summer of this year.

The exhibition at Portikus now presents, in an augmented form, 40 blackboard drawings along with relevant historical material. The aim is, on the one hand, to allow the self-evidence of the boards to be experienced, thus initiating a dialogue with established and contemporary art. On the other hand, it should be demonstrated to what extent the intrinsic theme of the drawings, the unity of man and nature, of art, science and religion, can be relevant for our contemporary view of the world.

The exhibition is accompanied by three academic lectures (Dr. Walter Kugler, Dornach, Prof. Dr. Hartmut Böhme, University of Hamburg, and Prof. Dr. Michael Bockemühl, University Witten-Herdecke) which deepen deepen these thematic complexes.

Photos: Katrin Schilling