Max Beckmann King and Demagogue (König und Demagoge) from Day and Dream (1946)

  • Not on view

Max Beckmann blended the real and the imaginary in his final print cycle, Day and Dream, filtering autobiographical elements from his exile in Holland, biblical and mythological tales, and scenes of sexual conflict through his vision of the world as a circus or theater. Oblivious lovers dance while the figure War slumbers, threatening to awake at any moment. Demagogues rise. Children refuse to eat their soup. Beckmann here revisited subjects he had explored throughout his career, suggesting that nothing changes and everything comes back.

Beckmann depicted himself throughout the portfolio, appearing as a figure who has seen and experienced it all. In the final print, he stands as Pontius Pilate across from the crucified Jesus. After another world war, Beckmann held little hope for salvation—for himself or for humanity.


In 1946, the New York gallerist Curt Valentin commissioned Beckmann to make a portfolio of prints for the American market. Valentin, a German expatriate and instrumental supporter of artists persecuted by the Nazis, left the choices of subject matter and medium to the artist. Beckmann, who had not made prints since 1942, responded enthusiastically to the offer, writing to Valentin that he was "teeming with ideas." This resulting portfolio of fifteen lithographs, initially titled Time-Motion, sums up a lifetime of his artistic themes.

Publication excerpt from Heather Hess, German Expressionist Digital Archive Project, German Expressionism: Works from the Collection. 2011.
One from a portfolio of fifteen lithographs
composition (irreg.): 14 13/16 x 9 15/16" (37.7 x 25.3 cm); sheet: 15 3/4 x 11 13/16" (40 x 30 cm)
Curt Valentin, New York
Unidentified, probably Amsterdam, Netherlands
approx. 110 (including 90 in the portfolio [this ex.], 10 as single prints, and 10 artist's proofs); plus a few trial proofs
Object number
© 2023 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Day and Dream
Drawings and Prints

Installation views

We have identified these works in the following photos from our exhibition history.

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at [email protected].


If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].


This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].