Richard Lindner (1901-1978)
Property from the Collection of Max Palevsky
Richard Lindner (1901-1978)

West 48th Street

Richard Lindner (1901-1978)
West 48th Street
signed and dated 'R. LINDNER 1964' (lower right)
oil on canvas
69 7/8 x 49 7/8 in. (177.6 x 126.8 cm.)
Painted in 1964.
Noah Goldowsky Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the late owner, 1968
J. Levêque, "Richard Lindner," La Nouvelle revue française, no. 154, October 1965, p. 735.
F. Schulz, "The Corcoran's American Mixture," New York Times, 28 February 1965, p. 22 (illustrated).
Richard Lindner, exh. cat., Leverkusen, 1968, n.p. (illustrated).
Richard Lindner, exh. cat., Hanover, 1968, p. 126 (illustrated).
D. Ashton, Richard Lindner, New York, 1970, pl. 148 (illustrated in color).
R. Dienst, Lindner, Kunst heute, Stuttgart, 1970, p. 36 (illustrated).
A. Hecht, "Richard Lindner: Ein duetscher Maler wurde mit aggressiven Großstadt-Bildern aus New York berühmt," Stern, vol. 27, no. 34, 6-12 June 1974, p. 41 (illustrated in color).
M. Verdone, "Richard Lindner il marionettista implacabile," Terzocchio, vol. 1, no. 1, January 1975, p. 19.
Kunst aus USA nach 1950: Amerikaner- Eine didaktische Ausstellung: Bilder, Fotos, Texte, Kunstmmlung Nordhein-Westfalen, exh. cat., Düsseldorf, 1977, p. 43 (illustrated).
L. Rivers, "A Send-Off for Richard Lindner," Art in America, vol. 66, no. 6, November-December 1978, p. 150.
J. Davidson, Homage to Richard Lindner, New York, 1980, p. 91 (illustrated in color).
W. Spies, "Richard Lindner," XXe Siècle, vol. 41, no. 53, December 1980, p. 91 (illustrated in color).
W. Spies, Lindner, Paris, 1980, p. 76 (illustrated).
G. Néret, Trent ans d'art moderne: pientres et sculpteurs, Fribourg, 1988, p. 170 (illustrated in color).
A. Muthesius and B. Rienschneider, eds., Erotik in der Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts, Cologne, 1992, p. 40 (illustrated in color).
P. Richard, " A Fool for Full Figures: Richard Lindner's Obsessive Secret," Washington Post, 20 October 1996, p. G13 (illustrated).
A. Welti, "Im Wartezimmer des Lebens," Art. Das Kunstmagazin, no. 3, March 1997, p. 21 (illustrated).
W. Spies, ed., Richard Lindner: Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Watercolors, and Drawings, Munich, 1999, pp. 30 and 81, no. 79 (illustrated in color).
Washington, D.C., Corcoran Gallery of Art, The Twenty-Ninth Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting, February-April 1965.
Paris, Richard Lindner, Galerie Claude Bernard, May-June 1965, n.p. (illustrated).
Turin, Galatea Galleria d'Arte Contemporanea and Rome, Galleria il fante di spade, Lindner, November-December 1965, no. 11 (illustrated).
Cleveland Museum of Art, Richard Lindner, November 1967-January 1968.
Paris, Musée National d'Art Moderne; Rotterdam, Museum Boymans-van Beuningen; Düsseldorf, Stätische Kunsthalle; Kunsthaus Zurich and Kunsthalle Nüremberg, Richard Lindner, January 1974-February 1975, p. 18, no. 27 (illustrated).
Saint-Paul de Vence, Fondation Maeght and Liège, Musée Saint-
Georges, Richard Lindner, May-October 1979, p. 76, no. 19
Washington, D.C., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and
Munich, Haus der Kunst, Richard Lindner: Paintings and Watercolors
, October 1996-April 1997, p. 99, no. 39 (illustrated in
Madrid, Fundación Juan March and Valencia, IVAM Centre Julio
González, Richard Lindner, October 1998- March 1999, pp. 50 and 90-91, no. 17 (illustrated in color).

Lot Essay

In West 48th Street, Richard Lindner combines riotous color, hyper-sexualized human figures and a frisson of disquieting power, producing a canvas that superbly illustrates his unmistakable style. West 48th Street exposes the underbelly of life in the metropolis with its rich visual references. Giving voice to the characters that populate society's margins in 1960s New York, Lindner interpolates bright lights, modern society's rapidly changing morals and human sexuality as commodity into one dazzling canvas.

In West 48th Street Lindner summons elements, both formal and unrestrained, from a variety of artistic traditions, bringing them together in a coherent performance that he shrouds in intrigue. This remarkable portrait contains many of Lindner's signature elements: a statuesque, erotically charged woman, a vibrant color palette, linear simplicity and the complex composite way he constructs a human figure. A powerful figure dominates the canvas, part female, part machine-like form. She commands the space in her tight metallic armature, broken only by the exposed breasts and a tantalizing glimpse of bare shoulder and arm. The work is overtly sexual. However, the figure is still extremely feminine despite the masculine appearance; witness her scarlet red lips, her sapphire blue eye shadow and clutch purse placed firmly in front of her. The seemingly contradictory nature of this cyborg lies at the very heart of Lindner's unique aesthetic style. Lindner achieves the visual richness of his canvases by skillfully matching elements of abstraction and figuration that hauntingly evoke characters from his own personal experience and imagination. At times, he composes an image as if he intended us to read his shapes and colors almost totally as formal messages. At other times, he builds on the influence of modern masters like Leger, with his statuesque human figures, and George Grosz with his high-octane sexuality. All this comes together to produce works, like West 48th Street, that are highly emotional and visually charged.

Linder's deftly handles seemingly contradictory formal elements. This resulted from the place and time of his birth. Born in 1901, Richard Lindner came too late for the great artistic tradition of the 19th Century, but lived through the chaos and upheaval of the two world wars, modern history's greatest conflicts. He grew up in Nuremberg, a city with a medieval reputation as the birthplace of the Iron Maiden. This formidable torture device consisted of an iron cabinet tall enough to enclose a human being, with a small opening that enabled a torturer to interrogate his victim by piercing their body. Lindner carries this sense of tension through much of his work. Although not depicted explicitly, many of Lindner's female figures, including the striking figure in West 48th Street evoke unease as they are rendered machine-like, their bodies encased in Maiden-like metallic armature and stiff, restrictive corsets.

Lindner's father worked as a door-to-door salesman but never found his niche. Circumstances forced him to move his family numerous times during the artist's childhood. Lindner's mother started a successful corset making business from home to bring in some extra money. The intricate construction and fitting of these sexually charged undergarments made a lasting impression on a growing Lindner. The family's nomadic lifestyle contributed to his growing sense of being an outsider, a sense further engrained when the rise of the National Socialist Party in Germany meant that Lindner's Jewish heritage was liability. The family moved to Paris, and arrived in New York in 1941.
In the United States, Lindner felt he was on the fringes of New York's art world, meaning that his work began to center on the marginalized figures in society. Lindner found himself drawn to the similar characters he saw around him. In 1963, the year before he painted the present lot, he commented that his work was "dedicated to the street, that 'city jungle' where prostitutes, pimps, gangsters and all sorts of criminals reign, dressed in their peculiar bold-colored costumes that make them seem like rigid robots." (R. Linder, quoted in M. Bouisset, 'Biographical notes on Richard Lindner", Homage to Richard Lindner, New York, 1980, p. 123). He depicted women in many of his most successful canvases. For Lindner women are the main holder of secrets; according to him, "women are more imaginative than menthey have secrets they don't even realize they have" (R. Lindner, quoted in D. Ashton, 'Richard Lindner. The Secret of the Inner Voice", Lindner, Berkeley, 1969, p. 7). Even in his earliest fantasies, women appear as giant, colossal, Amazonian figures, decked out for their elemental struggle against their role in a patriarchal society.

Despite their modern appearance, Lindner always maintained his work was rooted in more traditional art history. He skillfully mixed a rich tapestry of inspiration with his unique blend of American and European motifs, resulting in the period's most striking canvases.

"I admire the Pop artists - Warhol and Lichtenstein and Oldenburg - but I'm not one of them - never was. My real influences have been Giotto and Piero della Francesca, timeless and ageless artists. I look at them all the time. And I hope that something of their strength has come into my pictures. Basically it's what I'm aiming for - that kind of structural solidity that kind of power!" (R. Lindner, interviewed by J. Gruen, 'Richard Lindner: 1901-1978", Homage to Richard Lindner, New York, 1980, p. 122).

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