Keeping the Light Alive!
Monthly articles demonstrating Rudolf Steiner’s relevance to today’s world
Adrian Anderson Ph. D., author of books and articles on anthroposophy
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June 2015: The transition from the old holistic awareness to modern ego state
Rudolf Steiner taught that human consciousness evolves, slowly undergoing a transition from a group-soul consciousness to a more individualized ego state. This transition can be seen very well in European art. The pre-Renaissance paintings of saints and holy people always had the people placed in a background of a golden colour. Rudolf Steiner comments that the reason for this is an awareness in the artists of the medieval times that a holy person was spiritually located in, or resonated with, the divine Devachanic realms, where gold is a predominating colour. But in later Renaissance artworks this holistic awareness for the spiritual faded out, and so personal emotions came to expression, as the sense of ego strengthened. But above all now the focus of the artist was the portrayal of the physical world as a reality, almost as precisely as if photographed.
There is a very important painting by an early Renaissance painter, Alesso Baldovinetti, who created an extraordinary scene of importance for those who learn about the evolving of consciousness. For here Baldovinetti, as with a few other painters of this time, placed the natural world with its sky and trees as partially appearing on the canvas, and thereby intruding into the golden glow of the divine realms ! The golden area indicating the divine realms is still there, but this has now shrunken to become a smaller area directly around The Virgin Mary and Child. The painter felt that somehow the physical world has to be put into the scene! Coming across this painting in the Uffizi gallery is quite an experience. (This subject is discussed in detail, with a copy of the painting, in my RUDOLF STEINER HANDBOOK.)