The artist who most influenced Lindner during these formative years was Fernand Léger, whose work Lindner probably saw in Germany before he moved to Paris in 1933: « For me, Léger was most important. His lifestyle inspired me, and he was interested in everyday life. He was a peasant who charmed me. Elements of his paintings-his tools-all interested me. » Léger’s geometry and clarity of form, his sense of classical order transformed into the contemporary urban setting, and his acceptance of a technological world all appealed to Richard Lindner. Léger was an exemplary embodiment of Baudelaire’s « painter of modern life. » He dealt with modern industrial civilization in his depiction of machines and the construction of contemporary buildings. He defined his monumental figures with a sharpness that eventually found reflection in Lindner’s later paintings. Munich in Lindner’s time was wrapped in nostalgia, and many of its citizens were still obsessed with the legendary king, Ludwig II, the lunatic potentate of Bavaria and patron of Richard Wagner. Ludwig had exhausted the royal treasury by transforming his fantasy castles into actual buildings. Schloss Linderhof, the royal villa in the foothills of the Alps, is done in
faux rococo with a great grotto, subterranean waterfalls, and swans. It was illuminated by the first electric lights in the kingdom of Bavaria. The most famous royal residence, Neuschwanstein-a large neo-Gothic castle with towers, turrets, and parapets-was decorated with murals on the subject of royalty through the ages (The imitation of Neuschwanstein in Disneyland and the use of that faux castle as the pretentious logo for the entertainment park are not surprising.) Finally, Ludwig built Herrenchiemsee, his copy of Versailles, on an island in a lake in the foothills of the Alps. This most ostentatious of all the castles was an edifice symbolic of Ludwig’s identification with his namesake, Louis XIV of France. It was the last of the grandiose monuments to absolute royalty. Ludwig drowned, perhaps helped along by members of his court, in Lake Starnberg in 1886, but he lived on in the memories of Bavarian peasants, wh0 expected his second coming in an elaborate sleigh drawn by teams of white horses. His person was an inspiration to some of Germany’s foremost writers, including Thomas Mann and Lion Feuchtwanger, to the filmmaker Hans Jürgen Syberberg, and to the great American creator of poetic assemblages, Joseph Cornell.