On Saturday 13 September 2014, the Kunsthal Rotterdam
is opening a major exhibition about one of the most influential reformers of the twentieth century, Rudolf Steiner (1861 1925). The exhibition Rudolf Steiner. Alchemy of the Everyday presents a major retrospective of his life, work and widespread ideas. A collection of models, furniture, blackboard drawings, letters, photographs and film material offers a fascinating insight into his universal oeuvre. Steiner was the founder of anthroposophy and his legacy is apparent today in fields such as Waldorf education, organic architecture, anthroposophical medicine and biodynamic agriculture. In his day, he inspired artists such as Piet Mondriaan, Wassily Kandinsky and Josef Beuys, and was a passionate advocate of social entrepreneurship and sustainability. In these present times, where social issues such as increasing environmental awareness and interest in biodynamic agriculture, fair food, and social entrepreneurship have become commonplace, his legacy would appear to be more relevant than ever. The exhibition and activities at the Kunsthal present Steiners philosophy in a modern light and illustrate his influence in the field of design, art, architecture, nutrition, healthcare and education.
In the late nineteenth century, Steiner presented his ideas as a universal way of life in which science, art and spirituality were one and the same thing. In Steiners vision, everything is connected; the planetary system influences the growth and development of nature and mans well-being, and he felt that man should be aware of this. He developed the anthroposophical doctrine, which is based on mans free progress through research, inner development and linking the earthly with the spiritual. Steiner used his artistic and philosophical views to improve everyday life in a practical fashion. Along with some strong criticism, Steiners innovative ideas attracted many followers. Over a century later, hundreds of Steiner free schools, health clinics, farms and financial institutions still follow his anthroposophical principles.
The Kunsthal exhibition places Steiner in the context of his day, a time when new art movements were appearing and scientific discoveries being made in rapid succession. It shows how Steiner, under these influences, developed and shared his ideas with the world. The exhibition also highlights Steiners intriguing interaction with famous contemporaries such as Franz Kafka, Piet Mondriaan, Wassily Kandinsky and Frank Lloyd Wright. Alchemy of the Everyday also shows how Steiner developed an entirely new organic aesthetic in architecture and design. The furniture and buildings with their natural shapes that are so characteristic of Steiners work, exhibit a clear parallel with contemporary design by artists, designers and architects including Olafur Eliasson, Ronan & Ewan Bouroullec and the Rotterdam-based 24H Architecture.