Arno Stern

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Arno Stern in the Closlieu on Rue Falguière, Paris

Arno Stern (born June 23, 1924 in Kassel ) is a German-born educator and researcher who today has French citizenship .


Arno Stern attended a school in Kassel in Germany for three years before he emigrated with his parents to France after Hitler came to power . After the outbreak of the Second World War , the family fled to Switzerland . Together with around 300 other refugees, Arno Stern spent his youth there in a makeshift factory building until the end of the war. During this time of internment, the refugees were looked after by relief organizations, which made books available to them, including on art history . Arno Stern also used his limited free time to draw in these years. After years of internment and statelessness , Arno Stern and his family returned to France at the end of the war and obtained French citizenship.

In 1946 he worked in a home for war orphans in a Paris suburb. His job was to keep the children busy. Arno Stern had them painted. This is how the painting site came about . In the 1950s he expanded his work and set up an atelier for children in the Quartier Saint-Germain-des-Prés in Paris' 6th arrondissement . For 33 years this was the studio under the name Académie du Jeudi in operation until Arno Stern in a centrally gelegeneres Quarter relocated. He gave the new place near the “ Madeleine ” the name Closlieu (French made-up word, for example: “closed place”; however, Stern prefers in German: “Malort”).

The media became aware of Stern's work over time. Arno Stern was interviewed several times, reports were made, and he himself wrote articles about his work.

The UNESCO became aware of Stern and delegated him as an expert for the first international congress on art education to Bristol . On September 9, 2019, Arno Stern was honored by UNESCO and the Paris Sorbonne (in the Sorbonne itself). Thus his work enters the academic world.


Stern had the wish and the idea of ​​a “Thursday Academy” - a children's academy (to explain: Thursday was a day off from school in France at the time). So it came about that in 1949 Stern opened a painting studio for children in the Paris district of Saint Germain-des-Prés. The Académie du Jeudi soon became a major media project. But it was not Stern's wish to have a media-effective studio, rather it was his dream to create a place where the children can live out their inner being, and this apart from the public.

The most important development process for Stern began during this time. Until then, Stern described children's painting as “children's art”. In the course of time, Stern distanced himself more and more from this term and developed the concept of formulation. Painting under Stern's supervision has no therapeutic purpose and is therefore not art therapy , but the focus is on practical activity. Stern describes this with the following words: "The utterance itself loses its irreplaceable role, which can in no way serve the purpose of communication."

In 1987 he founded the Institut de Recherche en Sémiologie de l'Expression ("Research Institute for Expression Semiology "), which deals with the development of the so-called formulation. In 2012, the Arno Stern Institute was founded, which is dedicated to the humanistic side of his work.

In January 2012, Stern published the book Memories of Europe 1933–1949 , which contains the prose texts and poetry of his late friend Herbert Kalmann. During the war he was housed with Stern in a refugee camp in Switzerland and wrote the texts in the book during that time.


  • The place of painting. With Eléonore Stern (pictures). Daimon, Einsiedeln 1998, ISBN 3-85630-573-4 .
  • The natural trace. When the desire to paint does not lead to works. Verlag Growing with Children, Freiburg 2001; La traccia naturale: quando il piacere di dipingere non si trasforma in opera , Luni, Milano 1997, ISBN 88-7984-074-6 OCLC 797609530 (Italian).
  • The painting game and the natural trace. Painting location, painting game and the formulation. Drachen Verlag, Klein Jasedow 2005, ISBN 3-927369-14-4 : New edition 2012, ISBN 978-3-927369-14-6 .
  • The expression. The human being between communication and expression. Classen, Zurich 1994, ISBN 3-7172-0268-5 ; Klotz, Eschborn 2008, ISBN 978-3-88074-023-5 .
  • with André Stern: My father, my friend - the secret of happy sons . Zabert-Sandmann, Munich 2011, ISBN 978-3-89883-291-5 .
  • (as ed.), with Herbert Kalmann: Memories of Europe. 1933 - 1949. SichVerlag, Magdeburg 2012. ISBN 978-3-942503-17-4 .
  • How not to look at children's pictures. Zabert-Sandmann, Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3-89883-328-8 .
  • The track. Been a child. Klotz, Magdeburg 2014, ISBN 978-3-88074-395-3 .
  • The painting game and the art of serving. The rediscovery of the spontaneous. Drachen, Klein Jasedow 2015, ISBN 978-3-927369-92-4 .
  • The painting game and life. Memories, reflections, fragments. Drachen, Klein Jasedow 2018, ISBN 978-3-947296-05-7 .


  • The alphabet of humanity . In: Der Spiegel . No. 23 , 2008, p. 172 ff . ( online - June 2, 2008 ).
  • Presentation of his work in the Austrian documentary film Alphabet on the subject of educational opportunities by Erwin Wagenhofer .


  • André Stern: And I was never in school: Story of a happy child , Kindle Edition, Zabert Sandmann, Munich 2011; License edition: Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau et al. 2013, ISBN 978-3-451-06552-1 (André, born 1971, is a son of Arno Stern).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Herbert Kalman: Memories of Europe. 1933 - 1949, ed. v. Arno Stern, Sich-Verlag, Magdeburg 2012, p. 7f.
  2. Olivier Keller: Because my life is learning. How children explore the world on their own initiative , Growing with children, Freiamt im Schwarzwald 1999, ISBN 3-933020-06-9 , p. 21 f.
  3. ^ André Stern - Institute Arno Stern. Retrieved November 20, 2019 .