Constructing the Sacred Dramas: David Maxim’s Revealing Bible Stories

David Maxim, “The Wisdom of Solomon”, 1989. Acrylic on wood, mixed media, canvas. 45 x 34 x 6 inches. Private collection.

David Maxim, “The Wisdom of Solomon”,1989. Acrylic on wood, mixed media, canvas. 45 x 34 x 6 inches. Private collection.

Solomon, the last king of an undivided Israel, was also renowned for his supernatural wisdom. In this capacity he acted as a supreme judge over his people. In perhaps the most famous episode showcasing this legendary gift (a favorite of many Renaissance and Baroque painters) two women fight over a child each claiming to be its mother. Solomon decrees that the baby must be divided equally between them. Of course the real mother protests, while the false mother agrees with the king. Solomon rules in the true mother’s favor. Here Maxim uses the allusive power of objects to full effect. The jointed center apparatus resembles both a blade and a folding screen. The act of cutting is not simply a physical one in this tale. To “rightly divide the word of truth” we are told in the Bible is the sign of one who knows the law of God. Solomon separates the false from the true. His word is the metaphorical sword of justice.