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Richard Lindner. City Circus

Abstract : Born in Hamburg, the artist first moved to Paris in 1933 before emigrating to New York at a later date. He captures shadowy figures from the big city and presents them as if in a circus tent: thieves, prostitutes and gamblers become protagonistsfrom the margins of society. A feeling for the absurdity of human existence lends particular strength to Lindner’s visual language, which brings New Objectivity’s grotesque elements of caricature together with the vivid, collage-style flatness of pop art. In terms of content and form, Lindner carved out his own space within the dominant artistic trends of his day, oscillating between the cultural spheres of Europe and North America. His Jewish roots led him to flee Germany under the National Socialist occupation, a journey which also marked an important turning point in his artistic development. Once away from his home country, his interests evolved from his early career in illustration and increasingly turned to the signs of political and cultural-historical decay that characterised the times he lived in. From then on, he explored these themes through painting, examining everyday life in the modern metropolis and basing his observations on intellectual foundations through his study of literature, which encompassed authors such as Baudelaire, Flaubert, Rimbaud, Strindberg and Heinrich Mann. Lindner’s use of form contains echoes of artists influenced by cubism, including Fernand Légard and Oscar Schlemmer, whose example enabled him to free himself both from the abstract expressionism of North America and from the art informel of post-war Europe. Even his early work on paper and canvas from the 1950s serves as proof of this artistic independence. The themes of Lindner’s compositions are shaped by his childhood memories of Nuremberg. His mother ran a business selling tailor-made corsets, and his penchant for voyeurism and fetish, the female body and feminine eroticism flourished at an early age. The female form occupied centre stage in his work, its strength and dominance presented in opposition to the helplessness of men, in a similar vein to the iconic myth surrounding Marilyn Monroe. Lindner had the following to say on the subject: ‘The woman is in any case more interesting than the man. The woman has imagination. That helps her to survive. The man, by contrast, is a simple affair, both physically and physiologically. The woman is the stronger, she is geared towards giving the man his lumps of sugar, as long as she gets something for them. But now, at the end of the twentieth century, she wants to keep the sugar for herself’ (quoted in W. Spies, Richard Lindner: Catalogue Raisonné, 1999, p. 10). Couples became his motif of choice, which he used to bring various roles and ideals to life and to illustrate the mutual attraction between man and woman as if in an erotic jigsaw. Lindner created his own city circus with a sense of psychological alienation and a mysterious eroticism reminiscent of the images of artists such as George Grosz and Otto Dix. Yet it was the panorama of New York’s demimonde and underworld that overwhelmingly shaped his own individual iconography. His unmistakable visual vocabulary made Lindner one of the most influential pioneers of pop art.
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https://hal.univ-lorraine.fr/hal-02994787
Contributor : Sylvie Camet <>
Submitted on : Sunday, November 8, 2020 - 1:09:07 PM
Last modification on : Monday, November 9, 2020 - 3:26:00 AM

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Sylvie Camet. Richard Lindner. City Circus. Stiftung Ahlers Pro Arte / Kestner Pro Arte, Warmbüchenstraße 16, 30159 Hannover, Germany, 2015. ⟨hal-02994787⟩

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