Born in Hamburg, Germany, Lindner enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich in 1925. An art director with the Nazi-associated publisher Knorr and Hirth, Lindner fled Germany the day after the Nazis came to power.
Briefly imprisoned in Paris, he escaped, serving in the French and British armies. He arrived in New York City in 1941, and worked as a magazine illustrator for Vogue, Fortune and Harper's Bazaar. It was in 1952 that Lindner decided to devote time to his painting.