Maximilan Lenz, practitioner of a range of artistic genres (historical, genre, landscape and still-life painter, graphic artist, lithographer and maker of woodcuts), became known as one of the founders of the Vienna Secession and one of its active participants. Following his graduation from the Vienna Academy, he also studied in Rome, and then, in the early 1890s, worked in Buenos Aires as a postage-stamp and banknote designer. Two-and-a-half years later, he returned to Vienna, where he joined forces with other artists seeking modern, new paths. Lenz's chef-d'oeuvre, A Life, bears the defining features of Viennese Secession and Symbolism. The Secessionist philosophy was inseparable from the worldview of the era, which was generally the awareness of homelessness, characterised by flight into the rapture of the aesthetic. The aim of aesthetic compensation was to attain acquiescence and harmony of the inner frame of mind, as the counterbalance to the discovery of reality. The painting, A Life, originally entitled One World, met with great success. The contemporary Viennese press related the event: "A blue picture made an astounding success; moreover, it was purchased immediately. This is the painting of Max Lenz, whose author was made instantly famous." The painting is, in fact, a symbolic self-portrait, which places the young artist in a fantasy world, a blossoming, spring landscape. A vision of blue veiled girls appears about him, surrounding him as in a dream, and they practically draw him to them - the man depicted as isolated, in a realistic interpretation. The artist, immersed deep in himself and advancing toward the viewer, taking nearly no notice of the exceptional events appearing around him, produces an almost explosive tension with the duality elicited by his daydreamy figure. The enigmatic landscape, painted in an unnatural palette, conveys the inner tranquillity of the individual. The extraordinariness of the composition lies in the fact that the symbolism of the content and form, in response to the "mystical worship of beauty" that regales the eye - the expectation of art, bears the dissonance that has precipitated the general attitude towards life of the era, modernisation and the consciousness of social crisis induced by industrialisation.