A printmaker, painter, and sculptor, Max Klinger was born in Leipzig February 18, 1857. He began his art education in 1874 in Karlsruhe, Germany, at the dawn of the Nouveau renaissance. His introduction to art came from one of Germany's most prominent daring painters, Karl von Gussow. At a time when Symbolism was often considered separate from traditional artistic styles, Klinger would transcend the barrier. Symbolist in nature while romantic and realist in execution, his etchings appeal to the viewer in vivid line and contrast.
An admirer of Chavannes, Goya, and Daumier, Klinger built his etching portfolios (including 14 major cycles, comprising of 265 plates) on personal observations of what underlies daily life: love, death, poverty, sex, obsession, and violence. He tackled predominant social and political issues on the one hand, while giving shape to fantastic and sometimes terrifying dreamscapes on the other. These themes were often portrayed in stark landscapes and simplified situations: A sailor rescuing a glove from a tossing sea; the body of a dead man lying in the middle of a tranquil, empty path; a woman walking alone along a dark shoreline, crying. By the same token, his careful, detailed contrast of motion and stillness provided a powerful subtlety: A crowded roller-skating rink where a fallen child-feet still suspended in mid-air- is noticed only by the lapdog of one of the many adults surrounding her.
His work would come to influence Käthe Kollwitz, Edvard Munch, Max Ernst, Salvador Dali, and many others. Max Klinger died on July 5, 1920 near Namburg, Germany.