Neo-Zoroastrianism in Modern Art Pedagogy: Johannes Itten and the Mazdaznan Movement
Colette Walker (Doctoral Candidate, Art & Religion, GTU)
Through his innovative curriculum design and teaching methods at the Bauhaus—the ground-breaking German school of art and design—Johannes Itten continues to exert a profound influence on art pedagogy worldwide, above all in the areas of color theory, composition and artistic experimentation. Less widely acknowledged is the degree to which his conceptions about artistic development were interwoven with his intensive spiritual pursuits. This was especially true during his years at the Bauhaus, 1919-1923, during which time Itten embraced a Neo-Zoroastrian sect, Mazdaznan, a new religious movement that advocated physical practices (such as vegetarianism, breathing exercises, and yoga-like movement) as a means for spiritual growth, and that has yet to receive sufficient scholarly attention. This talk will present recent research on the history, beliefs, and practices of movement—a study made possible through the generous support of CARe—and will reflect on how Itten engaged and adapted Mazdaznan teachings within his own spiritually grounded art pedagogy.
The Doug Adams Gallery is the primary exhibition space for the Center for the Arts & Religion at the Graduate Theological Union.