Representative of humanity
The Representative of Humanity is a nine meters high wooden sculpture created by Rudolf Steiner between 1917 and 1925 in a collaboration with Edith Maryon. It was placed in a central place in the first Goetheanum, was saved from the fire when the Goetheanum was destroyed by arson, and is now placed in the second Goetheanum. It depicts the Christ in a human representation, as the representative of Man, in its battle between Luciferic and Ahrimanic influences represented by Ahriman in the cave and Lucifer on top.
FMC00.301 depicts the Representative of humanity sculpture
FMC00.301A shows the placement in the original first and current Goetheanum (click to enlarge)
FMC00.301B shows the plaster model and, on the right, Rudolf Steiner in 1919.
FMC00.301C shows the countenance of the symbolic (not purely physical) representation of Christ-Jesus
Lecture coverage and references
It is quite indifferent what name we give to this central figure, but we may see in it the representative of Man on earth, man's representative in the highest meaning of the word. And if we see the ideal of humanity in that human being who for three years bore within him the Christ, then we may also see the Christ in this central figure of our plastic group.
Yet we should not simply face the statue with the thought: “That is meant to be the Christ”, for this would be wrong.
Instead, we should experience everything in an artistic way, that is to say, we should not interpret things symbolically from outside, but everything should result from what the forms themselves reveal.
1932-10 - In Memory of Rudolf Steiner, An Essay By Marie Steiner
In lectures during 1912 a description of the Christ figure was given to us in artistic and picturesque intensity, at a time when even the thought of the possibility of its plastic realisation had not yet been conceived. What we can now look at in a work of art, was conjured up before us by the power of the words:
“Yes, this outward plastic representation of the Christ — how He should be pictured outwardly is a question which has still to be solved.”
Many feelings will have to flow through human souls before there can be added something new to the many attempts already made in the course of the ages, an attempt which will show in some measure what the Christ is, as the supersensible Impulse which is making itself one with this earthly development. Not even the first beginnings of such a representation of the Christ are to be found in what has been accomplished up till now. For there must appear, embodied in the growing outward form, the organic forces of the impulses of Wonder, of Compassion, and of Conscience gathered there.
The Christ-countenance must be so living that its very expression will say: Here in this representation, all that makes man an earth-man, all that has to do with sense desire, has been overcome by the Spirit shining through — by what has spiritualised this face. There must be sublime strength in the face, brought out by causing everything that one can think of as the highest unfolding of conscience to manifest itself in the peculiar form of the chin and mouth ; a mouth, it must be — when one stands before it, when the painter or the sculptor wishes to form it — which gives one the feeling that it is not there to eat with but for the purpose of expressing all that has ever been cultivated in humanity as morality and conscience; and that the whole bony system, the teeth, and the lower jaw, give expression to the same. All this will come to expression in such a countenance. There will be so mighty a force in the form of the lower part of the face that it streams forth, renders and tears to pieces the whole remaining human body, till this in time will become a new form and thereby certain ether forces will be overcome. Thus it will be quite impossible to give to the Christ, who reveals a mouth like this a bodily form in any way similar to that of the physical man of to-day.
On the other hand, one will have to give Him eyes out of which there will speak an almighty compassion, such as alone is capable of seeing inner Being and not eyes which are there to receive impressions, but rather in order to go out, with the whole soul into the joys and sufferings of others.
Moreover, this Christ will have a forehead which one could not imagine as harbouring thoughts on sense impressions of earth. It will be a brow that projects somewhat over the eyes, vaulting over that part of the brain; yet, at the same time, it will not be a “thinker's brow” that ponders over what already exists, but rather Wonder will have to express itself from this brow that projects above the eyes and gently arches back over the head, thus expressing what may be called Wonder over the Mysteries of the World. That must be a head such as man cannot meet with in physical humanity.
Every portrayal of the Christ should really be something like the Ideal of the Christ-figure. And the feeling which aspires towards this ideal whenever in the course of evolution man struggles to achieve it — in so far as humanity strives artistically to present this Highest Ideal, through the help of Spiritual Science, must there be this feeling: You may not look to something which already exists, if you wish to portray “the Christ”; rather, you must cause to become a power, active in yourself to permeate your whole being, everything that you can achieve through spiritual absorption in the spiritual course of the world, through the three momentous impulses — Wonder, Compassion, and Conscience.
References and further reading
- More picture galleries on a.o. rudolfsteinerweb and schnur-verlag
- Ake Fant, Arne Klingborg, A. John Wilkes: 'Rudolf Steiner's Sculpture in Dornach' (1975)
- Peter Selg: 'The Figure of Christ: Rudolf Steiner and the Spiritual Intention behind the Goetheanum's Central Work of Art' (2009)
- Judith von Halle, John Wilkes: 'The Representative of Humanity: Between Lucifer and Ahriman' (2010)
- Sergei O. Prokofieff: Rudolf Steiner's Sculptural Group: A Revelation of the Spiritual Purpose of Humanity and the Earth (2013)
as well as:
- Rudolf Steiner, and Michael Howard (Editor, Introduction): 'Art as Spiritual Activity: Rudolf Steiner's Contribution to the Visual Arts (1997)