Work & Bio

Ernest Lindner

Born in 1897
 / Died in 1988

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Biography

LINDNER, Ernest
1897-1988

Born in Vienna, Austria, the youngest of thirteen children, his father was a profes­sional wood turner and carver who later established a factory of luxury articles in Vienna. Ernest studied drawing and painting at preparatory school in his native city. When he was eighteen he served with the Austrian army and airforce during the First World War and was wounded in an air crash in 1916. At the end of the war he started to study architecture but abandoned this when his father died. He then worked as a bank clerk for a short period and then as a designer in the family business of a small factory producing ornate items. Among these items were parasol-handles and canes and in 1921 Linder won a gold medal in a fashion design section at the Industrial Fair at Stuttgart with his entry of a parasol. He left the family business and became a partner in a candy factory. When the Italian lira fell in 1926, his firm was wiped out. He came to Canada in 1926 as a farm labourer and worked in Saskatchewan. After two summers work at farm labour he settled permanently in Saskatoon. He took special study under Augustus Kenderdine in 1928. In 1931 he became a Canadian citizen. He did some house-painting, illus­tration work for the University of Saskatchewan, free-lance commercial art work while he attended night classes in art at the Technical Collegiate. He continued his night studies until 1935. In 1936 he became art instructor and head of the Art Department at the Technical Collegiate in Saskatoon, a position he held until his retirement in 1962. In 1933 one of his paintings was accepted for showing in the 50th Spring Show of the Art Association of Montreal. His water colour “The Silent Audience” was accepted by the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts 60th Annual Exhibition at Montreal. This work was described by Nonie Mulcaster as follows, “This is a fanciful impression of the little ‘snow people’ who inhabit the island throughout the winter. Tiny spruce wearing rounded fluffs of snow take the form of winter elves, crouched in a circle to watch the dancing figure of a slender maiden spruce. The soft-lit gloom of winter woods forms a fitting background and adds to the feeling of hushed suspense. The subtle colors of sunlit snow, the exquisite design in every shape, and the impish spirit that prevades this highly imaginative piece of work combine to make this one of Mr. Lindner’s most popular pictures.” In 1940 he became a member of the Federation of Canadian Artists. By 1941 Lindner had attracted the attention of the Society of Canadian Painter-Etchers and Engravers for his linoleum cuts entered in their 25th annual exhibition and as a result was invited to become a member. In 1944 he donated one of his paintings of the Twenty-fifth Street Bridge in Saskatoon for presentation to Saskatoon’s adopted Russian City of Romny. His exhibition in Calgary during 1945 was noted by The Albertan as follows, “One of the most interesting phases of this exhibition has been the accentuation of drawings and paintings by the artist of his wife ‘Bodil.’ He has found in her attractive profile and characterful face an inspiration for a number of his works. In this he is repeating the trend of many artists, such as Frans Hals, amongst the masters, and Gerald Brockhurst, A.R.A., representing the moderns. In perhaps the finest large water color in the exhibition Lindner (who brings to western Canada the meticulous technique of Middle European art training) gives a fine portrait of his wife . . . . Lindner’s other love is for the interiors of spruce woods, where he finds strange living forms, and intriguing aspects of decay. This phase of his work is making him well known in exhibitions across Canada.” He produced carvings from spruce although his painting and drawing received more of his attention. In 1959 he received a Canada Council Grant for a year’s study in Europe. He took a five months course in etching and wood sculpture at the Academy for Applied Arts in Vienna. He travelled in England, France, The Nether­lands, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland. After he returned to Canada he continued to develop his art and exhibited his work at: Norman Mackenzie Art Gallery, Regina, Sask. (1962); Saskatoon Art Centre, Sask. (1963); The Alberta College of Art, Calgary (1963); Brandon Allied Arts Centre, Brandon, Man. (1964); Moose Jaw Public Library, Moose Jaw, Sask. (1964); Banfer Gallery, New York City (1965); Mendal Art Gallery (retrospective exhibition – 1970) when Florence Pratt noted, “Hung in chronological order the sketches, water colors, oils and acrylics tell their own story of a steadily maturing talent. Portraying with ever deepening insight and interest the varied facets of nature and the human form, these works reveal also both the strength and vulnerable gentility of the man himself. He has looked on nature, raw and rugged as she often is, yet found beauty in all her aspects. The grain and form of microscopic bits of bark or the great, grey swirl of prairie storm clouds, at varying periods, have found equal attraction and interest. Lindner’s concern lay more with nature than with people. Yet in the few portraits and nudes in the show, it is clear the perceptive eye of the artist saw well beyond the form.” Lindner painted in oils, water colours, tempera, casein; did sculpture in clay, wood, metals; engraved with stone lithography, acquatint and etching. He did illustrations for John McNaughton’s book Jungle Wise and Other­wise. Five of his water colours were chosen for showing at the Seventh Biennial of Canadian Painting and one “The Fledgling” was reproduced in the exhibition catalogue. Today Lindner’s remarkable paintings remind us that if nature is given half a chance, she will renew herself as does the sapling from the decayed tree trunk on the forest bed. He is represented in the following collections: Grand Central Galleries, New York City; International Business Machine Corp., New York City; London Public Library and Art Museum, London, Ont.; Royal Ontario Museum, Tor., Ont.; Hart House (U. of T.) Toronto; Norman Mackenzie Art Gallery, Regina, Sask.; Beaverbrook Gallery, Fredericton, N.B.; Sir George Williams University, Montreal, P.Q.; Vincent Massey Collection (NGC); University of Sas­katchewan, Saskatoon; F.S. Mendel Collection, Saskatoon; F.S. Mendel Collection, Sidney, Australia; Academy of Applied Art, Vienna, Austria; Clement Greenberg Collection; Saskatoon Gallery & Conservatory Corp., Saskatoon; Art Gallery of Ontario, Tor., Ont. In Saskatoon he completed eleven hammered copper reliefs and murals for the T. Eaton Company also murals for the Senator Hotel. Although no longer active with art organizations he was a member of the Saskatoon Art Associa­tion (1935); Saskatchewan Society for Education Through Art (1960); C.P.E. (1942); Canadian Society of Graphic Art (1944); Saskatchewan Arts Board; Sas­katoon Art Centre; Canadian Arts Council and others. One of Canada’s finest artists, he died at 91 leaving a remarkable body of sensitive work.

Colin S. MacDonald
A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, volumes 1-8 by Colin S. MacDonald, and volume 9 (online only), by Anne Newlands and Judith Parker
National Gallery of Canada / Musée des beaux-arts du Canada