the art of ballOOn-painting

by uwe kurz

Justinus Kerner (1786-1862)


Justinus KernerJustinus Kerner was born on the 18th of september 1786 in Ludwigsburg/Germany as the sixth and youngest child of an administrative official. He spends his childhood in Maulbronn and Ludwigsburg, where he visits the latin school and completes a commercial training. From 1804 to 1808 he studies medicine in Tuebingen, besides he associates with a set of friends of the lyric poetry, among them Ludwig Uhland, Karl Mayer, Heinrich Koestlin, Varnhagen von Ense.
     Justinus Kerner publishes his first poems in 1807/08 in Seckendorfs »MUSE yearbooks« and in Arnims »newspaper for hermits«. An educational journey leads him to Hamburg in spring 1809, where he works in a hospital led by his brother; from there he visits Fouqué and Chamisso in Berlin. In the autumn of 1809 he travels to Vienna, associates there with Dorothea and Friedrich Schlegel and makes Beethoven´s acquaintance.
    Starting from 1810 he works 1819 as a general practitioner in different small Swabian villages and establishes himselve in Weinsberg. In 1811 he writes his »Reiseschatten« (Shadows Of A Journey), a collage from letters. In co-operation with his Swabian poet colleagues Uhland and Schwab he creates two compilations, »Poetischer Almanach für das Jahr 1812« - Poetic Yearbook For The Year 1812 (publisher Kerner) and »Deutscher Dichterwald« - German Forest Of Poets (publisher Kerner, Fouqué and Uhland). In 1816 he developes the narration »Die Heimatlosen« (The Homeless), in 1817 the satire »Der rasende Sandler« (The Furious Sandler).
    Between 1817 and 1819 Kerner intervenes with some essays in the constitutional fights of Wuerttemberg, withdraw himselve however later to an unpolitical internalness. His 1822 built up house in Weinsberg becomes one of the mental centers of Wuerttemberg.
    In 1824 he writes the »Geschichte zweyer Somnambülen. Nebst einigen anderen Denkwürdigkeiten aus dem Gebiete der magischen Heilkunde und der Psychologie« (History Of Two Somnambules. Together with some other memorablenesses from that areas of the magic medicine and the psychology). In 1826 he publishes further poems (extended editions 1834, 1841, 1847 and 1854). In 1829 he writes »Die Seherin von Prevorst  - Eröffnungen über das innere Leben der Menschen und über das Hereinragen einer Geisterwelt in die unsere« (The Seer Of Prevorst - disclosure over the internal life of humans and over the project of a spirit world into our. A dramatic farce with the title »Der Bärenhäuter im Salzbade« (The Bearskinner In A Bath Of Salt) appears in 1835. In 1840 he publishes the »Bilderbuch aus meiner Knabenzeit« (Picture Book From My Boy Time) with memories from the years 1786 to 1804.
    Starting from 1851 he goes increasingly blind. In 1852 appears a further volume with poems »Der letzte Blüthenstrauß« (The Last Bunch Of Flowers). In 1853 he publishes »Die somnambülen Tische - zur Geschichte und Erklärung dieser Erscheinung« (The Somnambule Desks - for the history and assertion of this appearance). In 1856 he writes the biography over »Franz Anton Mesmer aus Schwaben, Entdecker des thierischen Magnetismus« (Franz Anton Mesmer From Swabia, Discoverer Of The Animal Magnetism). In 1859 a further poem volume with the title »Winterbluethen« (Winterblossoms) is published.
    Justinus Kerner dies on the 21st of February 1862 in Weinsberg. His paper over »Die Kleksographien« (The Kleksographies) is published posthum in 1890 by his son Theobald Kerner.


Uwe Kurz


to the top


JustinusKerner: The Kleksography


Perhaps, while reading and viewing these pages, it will probably come to ones´ sense, how one saw in the earliest youth by crushing of small, colouring berries, fly heads etc. on a folded paper, drawings develop without any art, without any help from a pencil and a brush. I also still remember this from my youth.
The increasing  blindness caused that I made good progress in this juvenile play; because mostly, whenever I wrote, drops and blots of ink  fell on the paper. Sometimes I did not notice these and folded up the paper, without drying it. When I pulled it now again from each other, then I saw, particularly if these drops had come close to the fold of the paper, that sometimes symmetrical drawings had been formed, like in particular arabesques, shapes of animals or figures... So I thought I could bring this appearance by exercise to a greater formation.
    The procedure and the pictures resulted from it I announced to many of my friends near and far already seven years before, these pictures were also very often desired by friends for their album in combination with a verse written by my hand, they were also coveted as win-rising and joyfully taken up in lotteries in Stuttgart and Dresden, which had been organized for the poor by charitable women.
    This play with the thick blots spread also at that time soon under many people and became almost here in our area and also in the distance for a while a fashionable play of old and young people, even in schools to the disappointment of the teachers. As I hear, an enthusiast of this art in Stuttgart has made duplicates of such ink-pictures by lithography.
     Already seven years before a brilliantly witty friend of art and humor called this method of making such pictures from ink-blots »Kleksography«. Also the pictures given in these pages developed in no other way. I want to repeat here only in more details, how such pictures develop and also these developed.
    Ink-blots (Swabian term: Dintensaeue - ink sows), which are made on one side of the folded paper (on its right or left side, but never on both), produce (after putting the sides of the paper together and stroking with the fingers or the ball of the hand), as a result of their double formation, which they receive by their running and printing on the pure space of the other side of the line, objects of different types with a wide room for fantasy. Remarkable that such pictures very often show the typus of long passed times from the early days of old peoples, e.g. idols, graven images, urns, mummies... The picture of men like the picture of animals become evident in the most diverse shapes from this blots, particularly very frequently the skeleton of human beings. Where the fantasy is not sufficient, sometimes a few feather-strokes can also help, since the main type is mostly given. So e.g. the picture of a human in its whole shape and clothing can appear, however maybe without head, hand..., but in the absence it can easily be replaced there in such a way.
    It must be noticed, that never something appears, what one would like to bring out, and often the opposite of the expected develops. Thus also this »Hadesbilder« (pictures of Hades) given here did not appear as a result of my will and my strength, I am quite unable of drawing, but they appear in that way, which was described above, just from inkblots and they often required none or only insignificant help by some feather-strokes or by a artificial painting over of faces.
    It is also remarkable that these pictures naturally not have been made after the texts, but that the text was made after them, and so the reader and viewer of these pages also may take up this pictures and their explanation in verses with indulgence.

In February [18]57


translated by Uwe Kurz


back to
On Chance In Art


mistakes found? send me an e-m@il


to the top