Richard Lindner


Illustrations, publicity, posters. Jewish. Born 11 November 1901 in Hamburg; father from Hamburg, mother from New York. Childhood spent in Nuremberg, where his studies began. First studied music, then studied 1924-7 at academies in Munich. 1927: moved to Berlin where he was graphic designer and illustrator for the publisher Ullstein. 1929: art director for the Munich publisher Knorr & Hirth, and the newspaper Münchner Illustrierte Zeitung. 1933: because of the political situation, emigrated to Paris where he freelanced. His wife Elsbeth (or Elisabeth; m. June 1930) illustrated for the French fashion journals Vogue and Jardin des Modes. 1936: Lindner created 4 posters for display in the London Underground for Barnes, the English piano manufacturers, that brought him to the attention of the public (see below: Alexandre, 1948); first London exhibition.

‘When war broke out he was interned as an enemy alien [first at Villemalard near Blois] despite the fact that he was a known political refugee. Five months later he was permitted to volunteer for the French army and still later was attached to the English army under Montgomery who was, at the time, unable to receive reinforcements. This led to the tragic-comic situation of his being picked up later by the French and nearly being executed as a spy. Next, he was assigned as a guide for conquering German troops in 1940 and was sent off on this mission of greeting with a French captain who also happened to be Jewish. Aware that the Germans in their turn would seek to execute him not only as a Jew but a German national in a foreign uniform, Lindner prevailed on the captain who permitted him to escape. Lindner then made his way to Marseille, managed to contact the underground and finally, with the help of American organizations, came to [America] in March, 1941 [via Lisbon].’ (Tillim, 1960) A month earlier he had been in a concentration camp in Lyons; his wife was able to emigrate to Casablanca, then to the USA where she had relatives (although there is a contradictory story in Alexandre, novum, 1978; see below).

Zilczer: ‘Lindner later claimed to have served in the French and British armies, an exaggeration of his forced-labor duty with the English forces in Brittany…He probably modified the account of his French ordeal when, in the 1940s, he was seeking freelance commercial assignments in New York.’ (p. 235, n. 23)

17 March 1941: having crossed the Atlantic aboard the ‘SS Bonet’, he arrived penniless in New York where he stayed with his niece Elsbeth at 504 W 112 St. His first commission was a drawing, ‘M. Offenbach comes to town’, for the journal Town and Country, October 1941; he was soon illustrating for leading journals such as Fortune, Mademoiselle, Harper’s Bazaar, Town & Country and Vogue. 1942: first advertising commission: Container Corporation of America (CCA).

16 February 1943: father died after being deported to Theresienstadt. Richard’s brother had earlier been freed from Dachau, then ‘escaped’ to Shanghai. Their father Julius had also been released from Dachau but was unable to get the necessary papers for Shanghai.

15 November 1948: U.S. citizenship. From 1950: turned to painting; his work a precursor of Pop Art (although denied by RL). 1952: received Award for Distinctive Merit, Art Directors Club, New York. 1952-66: taught at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn. 1954: first one-man show in USA (at Betty Parsons Gallery, New York). 1957: guest lecturer at School of Art and Architecture, Yale University; received William and Mona Copley Foundation Award. 1965: guest professor at Hochschule für bildende Künste, Hamburg. 1970: Lichtwark Award, City of Hamburg. 1972: elected member of American Academy of Arts and Letters. Lived in Paris for several years before his death in New York, 16 April 1978. Interred Westchester Hills Cemetery of the Stephen Wise Synagogue, Hastings-on-Hudson, New York.

Writings by

  • conversation with S. Prokopoff in Richard Lindner (exh. cat.), Chicago: Museum of Contemporary Art, 1977
  • discusses his life in a film by Johannes Schaff, Richard Lindner ’77 .

Writings about

  • Modern Publicity 1939/40, pp. 22, 68 (Barnes piano posters)
  • Comprehensive references for Lindner’s work are Zilczer, 1996, Spies and Loyall, 1999 (see below).
  • 1931-50: Werner Suhr, ‘Es ist an der Zeit…’ (posters, ads), Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., Aug. 1931, pp. 10-25, esp. pp. 11, 16, 17 (Barnes piano posters, London)
  • ‘WAH’, World-famed artists in the service of advertising’ (Container Corporation of America), Graphis 1/2, 1944, pp. 82-7, 104
  • Walter Paepcke, Modern Art in Advertising: An exhibition of designs for Container Corporation of America, Chicago: Art Institute, 1945 (includes work by RL and others)
  • Alexandre Alexandre, ‘Das Plakat als Kunstwerk’ (4 posters for Barnes pianos), Das Kunstwerk, 1948, v. 5/6, pp. 26-31 George Amberg, ‘Richard Lindner’, Graphis 25, 1949, pp. 8-13, 89-90
  • ‘B.G.’, review of RL’s exhibition at Betty Parsons Gallery, in Art News, Feb. 1954, p. 44
  • Robert Rosenblum, ‘A sophisticated primitive’, Art Digest, 1954
  • Vollmer, 1956
  • Georgine Oeri, ‘Great ideas of western man’ (advertising series by Container Corporation of America), Graphis 74, 1957, pp. 504-13, 559
  • Sidney Tillim, Lindner, Chicago: William and Noma Copley Foundation, 1960 (includes biography and exhibition list)
  • Dore Ashton, ‘Richard Lindner, “the secret of the inner voice”’, Studio, Jan. 1964, pp. 12-17
  • Roland Penrose, ‘Richard Lindner’, Art International, Jan. 1967
  • Dore Ashton, Richard Lindner, New York: Abrams, 1969
  • 1970-80: Manuel Gasser, ‘Richard Lindner’, Graphis 152, 1970/71, pp. 496-503, plus cover and brief biography p. 488
  • Rolf-Gunter Dienst, Lindner (Christopher Cortis, tr.), Stuttgart: Hatje, and London: Thames and Hudson, 1970 (bibliographical and exhibitions list)
  • note on Rolf-Gunter Dienst, Lindner, in Graphis 152, 1970/71, p. 578
  • Richard Lindner Fun City Original Watercolors (exh. cat.), New York: Samuels, 1971 (extrensive bibliography, list of solo exhs, 1954-72)
  • Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., Feb. 1955 (cover)
  • Richard Lindner (exh. cat.), Musée national d’Art moderne, Paris, 1974
  • Dore Ashton, Richard Lindner, New York: Harry Abrams, 1978 (2 nd ed.?)
  • note on Dore Ashton, Richard Lindner, in Graphis 193, 1978, p. 462
  • Munzinger Archiv, 1978
  • Hilton Kramer, Richard Lindner, Paris: Flammarion, 1978
  • 1981-present: Werner Spiess, Lindner, Geneva: Editions Weber, 1980?
  • review of Werner Spiess, Lindner, in Graphis 215, 1981, p. 268
  • John Gruen, The artist observed/28 interviews with contemporary artists, Chicago: a cappella, 1991
  • Claudia Loyall, Richard Lindner, ein Emigrant in New York, Frankfurt a.M./New York: Peter Lang, 1996 (with bibliography)
  • Judith Zilczer, Richard Lindner. Paintings and Watercolors 1948-77 (exh. cat.: Hirshhorn Museum, Smithsonian Inst., Washington, DC, and Haus der Kunst, Munich), Munich/New York: Prestel, 1966
  • Ronald Salter, ‘Deutsche Emigranten in der amerikanischen Buchkunst’, Marginalien, 1997/3, pp. 6-24
  • W. Spiess (ed.), C. Loyall (compiler), Richard Lindner. Catalogue Raisonné, Munich/London/New York: Prestel, 1999 (includes exhibitions, bibliography, chronology)
  • Benezit, 2006 (includes auction records, 1972-2004).
  • International Biographical Dictionary of Central European Emigrés 1933-45, Munich, New York, London, Paris: K.G. Saur, 1983., 1983 (includes extensive bibliography and list of exhibitions)
  • 1951-69: Alexandre Alexandre, ‘Richard Lindner, Munich-Paris-New York’, Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., April 1951, pp. 2-12
  • Alexandre Alexandre, ‘Richard Lindner 1901-78’ (obituary), novum, July 1978, pp. 2-3, 54-6
  • Deutsche Biographische Enzyklopädie, Munich, London, New Providence: K.G. Saur 1995- (from 1997: Munich only)., 1997
  • Ernst Fischer and others, Buchgestaltung im Exil 1933-1950. Eine Ausstellung des Deutschen Exilarchivs 1933-1945 Der Deutschen Bibliothek. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2003. Very comprehensive. , 2003, p. 131, and biog. pp. 184-5


  • Wertheim Gallery, London, 1936 (group)
  • Art Institute of Chicago (group), 1945
  • Pratt Institute, New York, 1954
  • Betty Parsons Gallery, 1954, 1956, 1959
  • Schloss Morsbroich, Leverkusen, 1969
  • MoMA, New York, 1970
  • Musée d’art moderne, Paris, 1974
  • Fraser Gallery, London, 1976
  • Galerie Maeght, Paris, 1977
  • Sidney Janis, New York, 1978
  • Staatliche Kunsthalle, Baden-Baden, Haus am Waldsee, Berlin, and University of California, Berkeley, 1969
  • Hirshhorn Museum, Smithsonian Inst., Washington, DC, 1996/7 (then Haus der Kunst, Munich, 1997)
  • Hilger Gallery, Vienna, 2002.