University of Tasmania

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Angels of the First Class: The Anthroposophic Art of Ernesto Genoni, Goetheanum, 1924

posted on 2023-05-26, 12:42 authored by Paull, J
Ernesto Genoni (1885-1975) was the pioneer of biodynamics in Australia. The exhibition, Angels of the First Class, presents art that he produced under the tutelage of Rudolf Steiner at Dornach, Switzerland, in the year of Steiner's Agriculture Course. A century ago, Ernesto joined the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) and served as a stretcher bearer on the killing fields of the Western Front in 1916, in the battles of the Somme and Pozières. In 1923, Ernesto wrote to Rudolf Steiner from Italy offering his labour for advancing the Anthroposophy project. Ernesto arrived at Dornach early in 1924 and successfully applied to Dr Steiner for acceptance into the First Class (Erste Klasse der Freien Hochschule für Geisteswissenschaft). The First Class was Steiner’s new course of instruction in Spiritual Science for Anthroposophists who were established in their practice. Ernesto had trained for five years in classical art at the prestigious Brera Academy of Fine Art in Milan (Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera). At Dornach, in 1924, Ernesto experimented with painting “in the anthroposophic way”. The works in the exhibition, Angels of the First Class, are believed to be those works. Eleven images (front cover image and images 5 through 11) were recently revealed stored in a folder in a private collection along with Ernesto’s personal poster of the first Goetheanum (image 4). Images 15 and 16 are from two other private collections and are included in this exhibition because, by size, content, and style, they appear to be part of Ernesto’s suite of Anthroposophic paintings of 1924. In 1926, Ernesto migrated to Australia (after two previous visits) with the intention of exhibiting his art - most probably his classical style oil paintings - but he was thwarted in this plan by the prevailing Depression. In Australia, Ernesto cofounded the Michael Group in Melbourne (in 1928) for the study of Steiner’s works. He taught the First Class in Melbourne and Adelaide. Ernesto was the first Australian member of Steiner’s Experimental Circle of Anthroposophic Farmers & Gardeners (in 1928) and he pioneered biodynamics and organics in Australia. Angels of the First Class is believed to be the first exhibition of art works of Ernesto Genoni.


Publication title

Exhibition Catalogue


School of Geography, Planning and Spatial Sciences


Vital Years Conference: Cradle of a Heathy Life

Event Venue

Hobart, Tasmania

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in human society