work confirms him, while it also reveals him as critic, commentator, and, most important, a strong plastic artist. His work may spring from Freudian depths in legible symbols, but there is little benefit in adopting this exclusive interpretive point of view. Karl Jaspers warned his disciples not to try to ascribe specific features of madness to Hölderlin’s first poetry after his breakdown. There is a creative force, he wrote, which cannot be analyzed into its components.
In Lindner’s case, the quick identification of psychoanalytic clues adds little to, and in fact detracts from, the full measure of his achievement.
By contrast, the circumstances of Lindner’s life -his Bavarian background, his flight from Germany, his decisive emigration- must be given considerable weight. The nature of his art demands attention to its sources. His concern with the spoken, or descriptive, element in art is profound. As he told his students, « If you can’t paint it, write it. »
No one can judge to what degree events shape an artist. There is no way of determining the exact recipe for illuminating an oeuvre. Are biographical clues misleading? Can an artist slip through his epoch untouched, an Ariel without moorings? Obviously, discourse can lead anywhere
and rarely leads to definitive interpretation. Still, Lindner’s work abounds in significant clues concerning his past-clues that may point to an insoluble mystery, but that nevertheless cannot be ignored.
There is much literature concerning the double nature of the artist, his awareness of his two selves -the creating self and the earthbound, ordinary self. Rimbaud’s Je est un autre, » Proust’s response to a questioner: « C’était un autre moi qui a écrit ça, » and Symons’ commentary on Beardsley are particularly appropriate to Lindner: « Beardsley did not believe in his own enchantments, was ever haunted by his own terrors, and, in his queer sympathy and familiarity with evil, had none of the ardours of a lost soul. »
Lindner must be considered apart from his work because the nature of his discourse in paint is detached, no matter what the sources of his fantasies. Central to his entire oeuvre is the theme of the onlooker, the observer, the uninvolved spectator. He can appear either as a dreaming youth, a voyeur, a master of ceremonies, a pimp, or a fantasizing bourgeois. He is, as several titles indicate, the Stranger, the agent through whom Lindner’s visions are distanced, cooled.
Lindner’s way of looking at the world was deeply conditioned