nothing to interest him in reacting to Pollock and Kline, nor in the rejection of the absolutism of the sublime behind which Barnett Newman hid his resistance to history and an over-full world. All this is due to the fact that in the fifties he was a complete outsider in terms of all the conventions of contemporary art. Lindner became an artist intentionally and as a latecomer. And indeed, when he started to paint, all his friends and acquaintances were quite taken aback. Initially he drew his main inspiration from where he saw an active awareness of art-history. Duchamp’s faultlines and doubts came to his aid. For Duchamp legitimised intervention into one’s surroundings, intervention into life off-the-peg. The beings that act in Lindner’s compositions are bereft of all spontaneity. It is not only that they seem like test-tube creatures, born of research and sheer fascination. The very execution of his oils and watercolors also thrives on difficulties and inhibitions. The many preparatory drawings for the paintings bear ample witness to this.
Lindner became a painter by virtue of distance, the distance of the émigré. Without New York, as he put it, he would never have started to paint at all. He would simply have sunk deeper and deeper into history and memory. However,
Lindner’s unique position rests not least on his melancholy engagement with the Now. The search for memory was only the beginning. What he later painted was a razor-sharp response to the wounds and preoccupations that he had to work through as Lindner, the painter from Germany. In all his conversations – in contrast to the instant gullibility of the American art scene – there were repeated reflections on the consequences for life today of things that have been lost or have passed by. Nevertheless he viewed this capacity to distance himself as an important asset. For when he took a second studio in Paris a few years before his death -first in the place de Furstemberg and then in the rue-des-Saints-Pères, he summed up his feelings as, at worst, the fear that he might once again feel European wishes. Furthermore, as he said: « Paris is poison to painters. From morning till night you have to resist becoming an Impressionist. The colors in America, the garishness, the posters, those are more my sort of thing. » To be precise, « European wishes » meant relinquishing the status of the stranger, which he had achieved through a stylised confrontation with the past and the present.
Using what he found in the metropolis of New York, he succeeded in setting in train a melancholy commentary on