During 1960, after the strict academic training at the Johannesburg College of Art by teachers from the Royal College of Art, London, Claude van Lingen spent a brief period in Paris exploring abstraction. While chairman of the Fine Art Department at the JHB College of Art Claude designed a creative thinking course, the results were so impressive that he applied the same type of thinking to his own work. This resulted in his winning the Ernest Oppenheimer Memorial Trust Award at the 1973 Art South Africa Today Exhibition and representing South Africa at the 1975 São Paulo Biennial.
Claude left South Africa in 1978, received an MFA from Pratt Institute and settled in New York. He regularly exhibited in group exhibitions, notably at the prestigious John Weber Gallery, in anti-apartheid exhibitions and was represented by the Vera Engelhorn Gallery during the 1990's. Since 1980 various incarnations of his 1000 Years from Now theme have been shown in galleries in the US, Canada, the Johannesburg Art Museum and other venues in SA. His work is in the collections of museums throughout South Africa, the Musée des Art Decoratiefs de la Ville de Lausanne, Switzerland and the Blanton Museum, Austin, TX.