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Daniel Joseph Martinez

Divine Violence


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Daniel Joseph Martinez (1957-)


Divine Violence




Automotive paint on wooden panels


Overall: 153 × 275 × 187 in. (388.6 × 698.5 × 475 cm)

Credit line

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase, with funds from the Painting and Sculpture Committee, with additional funds from Neil Bluhm, Melva Bucksbaum, Philip Geier, Jr., Nicki Harris, Allison Kanders and Pamela Sanders

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Divine Violence functions, in Daniel Joseph Martinez’s words, as “a typology of every organization in the world that uses violence or aggression to fulfill its political ideology.” The installation is comprised of 125 panels, each of which bears the name of a political organization in black lettering on a wooden ground painted with automotive gold flake. These organizations represent diverse—and sometimes vehemently contradictory—aims and politics. Martinez’s database includes right-wing Israeli as well as Islamist groups, and insurgent constituencies from Suriname, Uganda, Armenia, and elsewhere, and the artist deliberately foregrounds the heterogeneity of the groups he represents. Long interested in revealing relationships of power, Martinez here uses the slick, luxurious gold paint to posit a link between global capitalism and the brutality and carnage in which these political subjects engage, under the name of wealth, religion, or both. Taken together, the collection of panels raises the question of when is violence acceptable—to whom, and why. Indeed, the work’s title refers to philosopher Walter Benjamin’s coinage for a form of violence that involves pure means for knowable ends.

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