pleasure derived from playing with toys has been recognized as closely related to the impulse to create art. The theory of art as a form of play, or pure pleasure, was first propounded in the eighteenth century by Immanuel Kant and carried further by Friedrich von Schiller, who saw the act of playing as an activity of liberation, which he considered to be the highest objective of humanity. Charles Baudelaire also thought of the toy as the child’s introduction to art, a concept now used widely in child pedagogy.
Lindner, who never outgrew his fascination with toys, collected them throughout his life. Those that he lost during various precipitous moves and hazardous escapes were replaced with new ones as soon as possible. He assembled toys from all over the world on the pristine shelves of his immaculate apartment on East Sixty-Ninth Street in New York. A visit there revealed kachina dolls, clowns, monkeys, tough motorcycle riders, little men on bicycles, fans, fine masks, Mickey Mouse, Uncle Sam, Napoleon, and postcards of the handsome face of the mad King Ludwig II. In many of Lindner’s paintings, people play with toys, cards, balls, hoops, and fans. In fact, the figures in the paintings often resemble
mechanical dolls that have not yet been wound up.
Costumes, theatrical makeup, and props always intrigued the artist. His figures with their stereotyped mask-like faces and Disneylandish attire are dressed like adult puppets. Even the heads of the mechanical figures often appear like mere ornaments, as do their breasts, thighs, and buttocks. Their attributes-long gloves, high-heeled shoes, capricious hats, whips, targets, and parrots, as well as numbers and letters-are all animated adornments of the figures.
Nuremberg’s predominance as the city of toys derived from its medieval Kleinmeister, goldsmiths and silversmiths. This artisan tradition of fine craftsmanship also gave rise to the fine arts, which flourished in the Franconian city. It was in Nuremberg that the best Late Gothic sculptors of Germany, Peter Vischer, Adam Kraft, and Veit Stoss, were commissioned to create major works in wood and bronze. During the Renaissance, Nuremberg was Germany’s most important artistic center. It housed the sacred relics and regalia that embodied and symbolized the divine right of the Holy Roman Empire. It was the city of Germany’s paradigmatic Renaissance master, Albrecht Dürer. It was a center of