Monograph, Ashton

by the experiences of his youth, and his paintings issue from a common vocabulary that has survived from the 1920s. When he was young, for instance, it was taken for granted that circuses, variety shows, and street life were effective analogues of society, and could be manipulated symbolically by the artist. Consider, for instance, Lindner’s important character, the Ceremoniemeister who appears in his early paintings. The Ceremoniemeister was a stock figure in early twentieth-century art. He appears in Apollinaire’s revolutionary play, Les Mamelles de Tirésias; he elucidates Wedekind’s plays; he presents Brecht’s Threepenny Opera; he appears as Manager in Satie and Picasso’s Parade; and he persists later in Max Ophuls’ Lola Montex, the films of Fellini, and in the literature of today with its ironic first-person accounts. The detached Master of Ceremonies, whether he arrives via Berlin nightclubs or international circuses or jazz-age cabarets, is a perennial instrument for the artist who seeks to distance his ironic commentary. Another way of relating Lindner’s work and the vocabulary of his youth which left such a deep impression is to consider his view of women, regarded as so extraordinarily perverse by  so  many  critics.  In historical  context,  Lindner’s  representation  of  woman as


temptress extends a tradition that was generated in the late nineteenth century and is still alive. It was common practice then among the Symbolist poets, for instance, to deal with women as Liliths, Delilahs, and Eves.
The uneasy awareness of the shifting role of women in Western society was reflected in two important writers of the late nineteenth century, both of whom Lindner read seriously during his student years.
Most familiar to him were the works of Nietzsche, and particularly Thus Spake Zarathustra, which he says was his first children’s book. (His precocious reading habits can be gauged by his claim that when he was only six years old, he possessed a history of erotica by Edward Fuchs.) Nietzsche, for Lindner, was a man with power over women, with whom he had complex relationships. Nietzsche was physically a small man. Lindner, as a small man, was deeply curious about him. Lindner sees Nietzsche as both a victim of woman and as a powerful victimizer-an attitude clearly expressed in his paintings, which he believes Nietzsche would have liked.
The other writer whose intense feelings about women are threaded with ambivalence was Rimbaud. Lindner has stated repeatedly  that  what  he  admires in women are their secrets.