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Blog | 17.02.2022

Adolf Wilhelm KEIM

The history of our company founder.

His career path

Adolf Wilhelm KEIM was born in Munich on March 25, 1851, and died there on September 5, 1913. His marriage to Karolina Frank produced two children. 

After his school education, he first did an apprenticeship as a potter, became a master craftsman and then - as it was usual at the time - went to travel and work in various places. It was not until late in 1879/1880 that he went to the Industrial School in Augsburg to study inorganic chemistry.

His first laboratory

Curiosity, eagerness to experiment, self-study, great discoveries and successes, but also major setbacks characterised A.W. Keim's time. Even before studying chemistry, he set up a "chemical-technical workshop for water glass and other painting techniques" in Augsburg in 1877. Even then, he had the clear and ambitious goal of founding a science of painting technique. Through his self-taught self-study and experimentation with clay glazes as a skilled potter, he already had initial experience in this field. At the age of just under thirty, he left the technical school with a final certificate and subsequently called himself a technical chemist or, from 1884, also a chemist and editor.

His first patent

In 1878, A.W. Keim received the first patent in Berlin on the production of weather-resistant murals with the title "Process for fixing mineral paints to wall plaster for the production of mural paintings", the basis for the product KEIM Purkristalat, which is still available today. He called the process itself "KEIM's Mineral Painting". Since then, the composition and application techniques have been refined again and again, but the basic recipe still exists today. Liquid potassium water glass is the most important basic material and binder of KEIM mineral paints. The silicification of the binder with the substrate creates a firm, indissoluble bond between the paint and the substrate (plaster, natural stone, concrete, etc.). The principle is still the basis of KEIM Silicate Paints today.

First KEIM coatings

From 1878, the first wall paintings performed with KEIM's mineral paints were created, which were still completely intact decades later.

The numerous facade paintings from the time under King Ludwig I of Bavaria showed major durability problems after only a short time. Painters increasingly used chemically produced materials, of which neither the manufacturing process nor the composition were precisely known. As an observer, insider, expert and enthusiast of the art scene, A.W. Keim wanted to make his contribution to the long-term preservation of works of art for future generations.

Vehemently, A.W. Keim therefore fought in later years for the introduction of standards for materials and techniques.

Technical information for painting

In 1884, A.W. Keim published the journal "Technische Mitteilungen fΓΌr Malereiβ€œ (= Technical Information for Painting). Even today, they are among the most important sources of art technology and restoration history. Volumes 1884 - 1943 are available here (link). By the way, today's magazine Restauro comes from the Technische Mitteilungen.

The foundation of the German Society for Efficient Painting Methods

In 1886, Adolf Wilhelm Keim founded the German Society for Efficient Painting Methods. One of the main tasks was the development of durable industrial paints. Finally, in 1893, the first Congress for Painting Technology was held in Munich under the co-organisation of Keim. Experts from Germany and abroad took part, and painting techniques and materials related to mineral paints and the restoration of paintings were presented and critically examined. In his most famous book "On Painting Technique" (1903) A.W. Keim also proposed a state independent institution for painting technique.

The beginnings of KEIM's manufacturing company

In 1881, A.W. Keim founded the first company for the production of mineral painst (Keim und Recknagel, chemical-technical laboratory for mineral painting in Augsburg), which was closed in the same year. In that year, Keim returned to his home city of Munich to study at the Academy of Art. There, too, there was suddenly a great interest in mineral painting. He hoped for better research opportunities and fulfilled his wish to reform the world of painting techniques as a university professor.

In the following years, he expanded his so-called "Versuchsanstalt” (=research institute) more and more into a painting centre, and at the same time, he was researching and manufacturing. When the production was taken over in 1895 by the "Steingewerkschaft Offenstetten" in Lower Bavaria and its successor, the "Industriewerke Lohwald A.G.", Keim had finally found the right partner for industrial production.

KEIM's heritage for posterity

Typical of the founding period were rapid successes, but also bitter setbacks and disappointments. Despite his achievements, A.W. Keim sometimes had to suffer harsh criticism. Despite numerous awards, he was often not given the recognition he had hoped for and deserved. He passed away at the age of only 62 on September 5, 1913. As with so many outstanding researchers and personalities, his true achievements only became apparent many years later.

We at KEIMFARBEN are proud to carry on the heritage of Adolf Wilhelm Keim!

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