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The Collection of Thomas and Doris Ammann

Boy with Machine

Boy with Machine
signed and dated 'R Lindner 1954' (lower right)
oil on canvas
40 1⁄8 x 30 in. (102 x 76.4 cm.)
Painted in 1954.
Mr. and Mrs. C.L. Harrison, Batavia
Stephen Mazoh & Co., Inc., New York
Dr. Peter Rosier, Fort Meyers
Anon. sale; Sotheby's, New York, 19 November 1981, lot 35
Ellen and Max Palevsky, Chicago
Their sale; Christie's, New York, 10 November 2010, lot 50
Thomas Amman Fine Art AG, Zurich
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Richard Lindner, exh. cat., Leverkusen, 1968, n.p. (illustrated).
Richard Lindner, exh. cat., Hanover, 1968, p. 122 (illustrated).
D. Ashton, Richard Lindner, New York, 1969, p. 36, pl. 22 (illustrated).
R.-G. Dienst, Lindner. Kunst heute, Stuttgart, 1970, p. 7, pl. 7 (illustrated).
G. Deleuze and F. Guattari, Capitalisme et schizophrénie: L'Anti-Oedipe, Paris, 1972, pp. 7, 13, 55 and 429 (illustrated).
W. Stevenson, "Les secrets de Richard Lindner," XXe Siècle, vol. 35, no. 40, June 1973, p. 146.
J.-H. Martin and M. Tabart, "Informations diverses. Musée National d'Art Moderne: Richard Lindner," La Revue du Louvre et des musées de France, vol. 23, 1973, p. 406.
F. de Gruson, "Richard Lindner: De la contiguité des corps," Clés pour les arts, no. 43, 6-12 June 1974, p. 14 (illustrated).
J.-L. Chalumeau, "L'Agonie de la Philosophie: Revanche de l'image," Opus International, no. 50, May 1974, p. 77 (illustrated).
"Lindner," Bulletin Museum Boymans-van Beuningen Rotterdam, no. 10, April 1974, p. 74 (illustrated).
M. Verdone, "Richard Lindner il marionettista implacabile," Terzocchio, vol. 1, no. 1, January 1975, p. 18 (illustrated).
P. Comte, "Les machines célibataires," Opus International, no. 60, July 1976, p. 36 (illustrated).
W. Spies, Lindner, Paris, 1980, pp. 25 and 53, no. 23 (illustrated).
W. Spies, "Richard Lindner," XXe Siècle, vol. 41, no. 53, December 1980, p. 81 (illustrated).
J. M. Weiss Davidson, Homage to Richard Lindner, New York, 1980, p. 81 (illustrated).
P. Gorsen, Sexualästhetik: Grenzformen der Sinnlichkeit im 20. Jahrhundert, Hamburg, 1987, pp. 49, 136, 139 and 275, fig. 42 (illustrated).
C. Loyall, Richard Lindner, ein Emigrant in New York: Zum Selbstverständnis des Künstlers 1950-1953. Mit einem Anhang unveröffentlichter Korrespondenz an Hermann und Toni Kesten, Frankfurt, 1996, pp. 54 and 177, fig. 38 (illustrated).
J. Russell, "Weird, From Somewhere Beyond Real," New York Times, 17 November 1996, p. 39 (illustrated).
M. Naves, "Richard Lindner: A New Yorker in Washington," New Criterion, vol. 15, no. 5, January 1997, pp. 47-49 (illustrated).
W. Spies, ed., Richard Lindner: Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Watercolors, and Drawings, Munich, 1999, pp. 25 and 53, no. 23 (illustrated).
A. S. Weiss, Breathless: Sound Recording, Disembodiment and the Transformation of Lyrical Nostalgia, Middletown, 2002, p. 154.
New York, Betty Parsons Gallery, Richard Lindner: Paintings, February 1956, no. 7.
Lynchburg, Randolph-Macon Women's College, Forty-Seventh Annual Exhibition of American Painting, March 1958.
Berkeley, University of California, University Art Museum and Minneapolis, Walker Art Center, Lindner, June-August 1969, no. 13.
Paris, Musée National d'Art Moderne; Rotterdam, Museum Boymans-van Beuningen; Düsseldorf, Städtische Kunsthalle; Kunsthaus Zurich; Kunsthalle Nuremberg, Richard Lindner, January 1974-February 1975, p. 35, no. 7 (illustrated).
Kunsthalle Bern; Biennale di Venezia; Brussels, Société des Beaux-Arts; Düsseldorf, Städtische Kunsthalle; Paris, Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs; Le Creusot, Musée de l'Homme et de l'Industrie; Malmö Konsthall; Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum and Vienna, Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts, Junggesellenmaschinen/Les Machines Célibataires, July-August 1975, p. 141 (illustrated).
Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, Richard Lindner: A Retrospective Exhibition, May-July 1977, p. 26.
Saint-Paul de Vence, Fondation Maeght and Liège, Musée Saint-Georges, Richard Lindner, May-October 1979, p. 58, no. 5 (illustrated).
Washington, D.C., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and Munich, Haus der Kunst, Richard Lindner: Paintings and Watercolors 1948-1977, October 1996-April 1997, pp. 23 and 57, no. 16 (illustrated).
Madrid, Fundación Juan March and Valencia, IVAM Centre Julio González, Richard Lindner, October 1998-March 1999, p. 33, no. 6 (illustrated).

Brought to you by

Michael Baptist
Michael Baptist Specialist

Lot Essay

Richard Lindner’s arresting portrait of a young boy caught up in a mysterious mechanical contraption, is rich with metaphorical meaning. One of the most recognizable of the artist’s cast of characters, Lindner’s boy embodies the promised utopian order of the modern machine age that emerged with the dawn of new century, but one which ultimately failed. Standing in front of a gigantic mechanical creation that he is able to operate just by pulling on a thin piece of string, the child’s smug expression is a tell-tale sign of immense self-satisfaction. Yet, instead of an image of childhood hope and innocence, Lindner’s children resemble the stark and sinister authority figures—policeman, dictators and mysterious strangers—that inhabit the artist’s universe.

Expanding to fill much of the picture plane, the rotund figure appears to be wrapped up in a machine of his own making. Dressed in ample dark clothing he clutches a key of sorts, attached to what looks like a rope and a piece of string. By the simple act of pulling the string, the machine could whir into life, whooshing and puffing in the pursuit of making of product that is destines to remain unknown. Yet, by way of his stance, the young boy also appears to be trapped in this machine; one slip and he could be dragged into the contraption, mashed up and turned into whatever product the machine was designed to manufacture.

In the 1950s, Lindner’s art began to morph from depicting more natural, yet still highly stylized figures, to resemble more robotic figures, constructed using more rudimentary forms. In this he was influenced by the work of Fernand Léger and the German painter Oskar Schlemmer. “Schlemmer influenced me most,” Lindner said, “in the simplicity and precision which he used in his figures. Basically, he used only four shapes, the circle, he oval, the triangle and the square…. It was a serious conception—you could not … make any facile exits” (O. Schlemmer, quoted by J. Zilczer, Richard Lindner, 1996, Washington, D.C., p. 22).

These formal qualities, along with his mechanistic imagery, would prove central to Lindner’s depiction of children. Their origins can be found the obnoxious child geniuses of Bavarian folklore, youngsters who could perform mathematical and other wizardry from infancy. But in Lindner’s mind they have become much more: speaking of Boy with Machine, in her essay for the artist’s retrospective at the Hirshhorn Museum, curator Judith Zilczer wrote “By fusing the primitivism of outside art with mechanistic imagery. Lindner transformed machine aesthetics into a disturbingly surreal brand of figure painting” (J. Zilczer, Richard Lindner, 1996, Washington, D.C., p. 23).

Painted in 1954 against the all-encompassing backdrop of the New York School, Boy with Machine was completed a short time after Lindner decided to give up his work as a commercial illustrator and paint full-time. It was also the year of his first solo show in New York at the Betty Parsons Gallery. Lindner’s work at this time was attracting widespread critical attention with the painter Robert Indiana described him as, “…a bridge between European Expressionism and the extreme sophistication of the American social milieu” (R. Indiana, quoted by M. Bouisset, ‘Biographical Notes on Richard Linder,’ Homage to Richard Lindner, 1980, New York, p.126).
Lindner’s paintings are convocation of formal and unrestrained elements taken from a variety of artistic traditions which come together to give a coherent performance shrouded in intrigue. Boy with Machine contains one of most important: the bloated child prodigy. At times the artist composes an image almost totally as if his combination of shapes and colors were to be read as formal messages. At other times he builds on the influence of modern masters to produce works that are highly charged, both visually and emotionally.

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