these seem to be saying that human beings and their feelings have become antiquated. The poster-like style which gradually begins to dominate underlines this. Let us take just one of these pictures, Telephone. In it a man and a woman, back to back, conduct monologues. They may even – without knowing it – be talking to each other. In another composition the signs of alienation and impoverished contact include a speech bubble next to one person’s head containing the despairing command: «Talk to me!».
The émigré felt himself drawn to the brutality of urban life in Manhattan. Yet at the same time he was searching for a filter that would take the spontaneity and directness out of what he experienced with such immediacy. A literary interest that encouraged him to pass comment on all things, met his needs in this matter. Lindner set his encounters against his reading of Baudelaire, Flaubert, Rimbaud, Strindberg and Heinrich Mann or against his knowledge of the biographies that he was pursuing in his pictures. Here he found his coordinates. He found a similar mixture not least in the autobiographical writings of Grosz for instance when the latter writes in his account of his time in Berlin, Ein kleines Ja und ein großes Nein: « We had read Flaubert and Maupassant, and thus we
imbued this night life with a kind of poetry. Many young poets lauded the whore under the street – light, the pimp, and free love in general. For many the whore became an ideal figure. That was also to do with the time. People admired Zola, Strindberg Weininger, Wedekind – naturalistic enlighteners, anarchic self-tormentors, death-worshippers and erotomaniacs. » For all these figures who crossed the stage of his memory, Lindner had one prototype. This was Marcel Proust, the Proust in his chokingly tight collar half-dead for lack of breath. Lindner pursued this notion of a suffocating concern for the past with obsessive persistence. His perplexing portrait of Proust is one of his earliest paintings. He worked out an image of Proust for this painting, creating it out of his imagination and from reports, using what he could find out from newspapers which he pestered for months. As he himself said, he came up against blind hatred, reports of utter egoism, of androgynous self sufficiency: » He was a man who only wrote about himself, only lived for himself. A kind of Picasso. Only without weaknesses. Picasso isn’t evil. In Proust there is nothing primitive, instinctive, everything about him is brain, deadly weapon. » The search for the truth about Proust becomes an allegory of the émigré trying to return to his own