Derrière le miroir n°241, Maeght

Saul Steinberg and Richard Lindner

Eugène Ionesco

I knew that young man Richard Lindner when he had already passed his three-score and ten. He seemed comfortably settled in this, if one judges by his works, uncomfortable world. For it is indeed an uncomfortable world we see in Richard Lindner’s works.
If, for Steinberg, what is comfortable is lined with humor and irony, for Lindner, it is the grotesque in its purest form that is expressed. No humor, and only rarely, when he draws or paints dogs, for example, does he make a concession to gentleness, to softness, to «la douceur». Concessions, rarely, to what is human, to friendship, as when he happens to paint the portrait of Marcel Proust.
Expressionistic traces can be found in his work, but no humor, nothing surrealistic. For Richard Lindner, the world, humanity are incapable of flight, incapable of jettisoning even some of that which burdens and keeps them stuck. In my opinion, there is nothing of the cubist in him, but rather everything of a «roundist».


Heavy, terrifying, tragic, ugly, caricatures pushed beyond caricature, the world, men are there, heavy and brooding, weighing down the painter. Richard Lindner discovered a kind of genuine beauty in ugliness. What constant trauma. What strength also.
Lindner’s characters, violently but skilfully set out in powerful and excessive colors are armed to the teeth. They have a metallic vitality, that of iron and steel, and if they are not at war, they are capable of it at any instant. Were they to collide, what a clash that would be, sparks would shoot out and metal fragments would strew the meeting place.
No concession at all to good taste, which Richard Lindner probably judges false laughable.
Erotic allusions are not lacking: the sex is drawn, woman’s sex, hideous, impenetrable.
Do these engines have a soul, a mind ? Only inasmuch as they are, as Gilles Deleuze would say, voracious desiring machines. We are dealing with dinosaurs, brontosaurus, giant diplodocus, plesiosaurus, giant dipteros, dragons dressed up as contemporary men, but who express their monstrous nature.
Without getting too emotional, we should recognize that Lindner, in a series of demystifications, shows us human nature  as  it  really  is,  in  its  truth.  What do these characters