David Stone Martin (1913-1992), USA

“above and beyond the call of duty”

, 1943


28 x 40 1/4 in. (71 x 51.5 cm)


About this artwork

David Stone Martin, born David Livingstone Martin, was an American artist best known for his illustrations on jazz record albums. Martin was born June 13, 1913, in Chicago and attended evening classes at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He was greatly influenced by the line art of Ben Shahn. He is best remembered for the over 400 record jackets he designed for Folkways and other labels. His work is hung at the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum, and the Smithsonian.

During World War II, Martin was an art director for the United States Office of War Information. This poster was one of several inspirational posters aimed at the Black community. Its heroic overtones and the quotation “above and beyond the call of duty” gain extra poignancy in hindsight: At the outbreak of World War II, the armed services continued its long-held practice of rigid discrimination against African Americans. This practice included not only a stubborn reluctance to acknowledge the capabilities of the African American soldier or sailor, but also a shameful denial of their courage and bravery.

When Pearl Harbor was attacked on 7 December, navy mess-man Doris "Dorie" Miller was serving on the USS West Virginia when it was struck. Before abandoning ship with the rest of the crew, he braved enemy fire to carry a wounded officer to safety, and, though not trained for combat, he took up one of the ship's anti-aircraft guns, possibly downing at least one enemy plane. "It wasn't hard. I just pulled the trigger and she worked fine. I had watched the others with these guns. I guess I fired her for about fifteen minutes. I think I got one of those Jap planes. They were diving pretty close to us."

Miller eventually received a Navy Cross, but only after intense pressure from the Black press back home. Miller was killed when his aircraft carrier was sunk in the Pacific in November of 1943.

Bruce Lambert. “David Stone Martin, 78, an Artist Who Specialized in Jazz Albums.” New York Times, March 9, 1992.