She studied drawing in Karlsruhe from the genre painter K. Guskova, then manufactured to order a series of drawings from the antique statues. He moved to Berlin, fell under the influence historisierung style of Menzel. The first art work in painting and graphics belong to 1878 In 1879 draws a painting "the Death of Caesar."
Of great importance in the work of Klinger took graphics in which he was a virtuoso, and in his book "Painting and drawing", published in 1891, gives a special, independent value in displaying the outside world. His goal in art Klinger, saw the unification of painting, sculpture and architecture. Written by Klinger religious paintings show the influence on the masters of the Italian Renaissance.
Born in Leipzig February 18th, 1857. He studied at the Academy of arts in Karlsruhe (1874-1875); 1876, attended classes at the Berlin Academy. In 1879 he traveled to Munich and Brussels, where he worked in the Studio E. Wauters. Was friendly with the Soviet Bekledim, having experienced a particularly strong influence during the years of stay in Rome (1888-1893). Lived mostly in Leipzig, not counting the years spent in Berlin (1881-1883), Paris (1883-1886) and Rome. In 1892 he became one of the founders of "the Society of Berlin artists" and a member of the Munich secession.
In his early paintings the works of Klinger dominated by romantic historicism ("the Death of Caesar", 1879, Museum of fine arts, Leipzig). Later in his things prevailed a kind of "conservative" modernist, full of poetic, sometimes over-engineered fancy, but keeping the traditional signs of the great academic paintings ("the judgment of Paris", 1886-1887, New gallery, Vienna; "the Blue hour" - with "neklinovskyi" the spirit of mermaids on the rocks among the sea, 1886-1890, Museum of fine arts, Leipzig; multi-figured Crucifixion, 1890, ibid.; the great triptych "Christ on Olympus", 1897, the Gallery of Austrian art, Vienna; the triptych "Memories of Paris", the New gallery, Vienna).
Much more innovative was its graphics — drawings, etchings and aquatint. A sensation has already produced two early cycle (both 1878), ostrovyrazitelnye "Series on the theme of Christ" and the Imagination of the glove; the last breath-a story about a boy who fell in love with a strange odusevljen glove — has become one of the brightest prevareni of surrealism. On the other hand, in a series of "Drama" (1883) depicting the events of the revolution of 1848 and tragedies of the city's "bottom" — there has been a line of future socio-expressionist graphics. Klinger also was able to interpret great music and puts it in figurative, but rather associative-free, rhythmically sophisticated "sequence" graphic sheets. Among the considerable series of the master — "eve and the future", "Cupid and Psyche" (both from 1880), "Paraphrases found the glove" (1881), "Life" (1881-1884), "of death" (part 1 — 1889; 2nd- 1898-1910), "Fantasy Brahms" (1890-1894), "Tent" (1915-1917). The schedule shall be exalted to the level of the modern novel, the master justified its prominent role in the book Painting and drawing (1891; Russian edition, St. Petersburg, 1908). If painting, according to Klinger, is based on the laws of the material world, the "graphite art" (Griffelkunst) is intended to Express the free flight of fancy.
Klinger has also made a distinctive contribution to the sculpture promoting the polychrome, using various species of marble, gold, ivory, bronze, alabaster and coloring. For plastics typical mythological Nudes ("Salome", 1893; "Cassandra", 1895, Museum of fine arts, Leipzig) and portraits of heroes (epic-scale "Beethoven", 1902; "FR. "Nietzsche, marble, 1904, the Hermitage, St. Petersburg). Sometimes Klinger, he created and frames for his paintings, turning them into complex symbolic reliefs. In recent years, worked on the enormous project of the monument to R. Wagner, remaining unfulfilled.
Since 1897 has been Professor at the Leipzig Academy of arts.
Dead Max Klinger in gross-yen near Naumburg on 5 July 1920. In Leipzig, opened the house-Museum of the artist.