When the representation of violence in pictures is questioned, we are mostly dealing with censorship, with the limits of what can be represented, with the media, and with politics. These debates are driven by a belief in the power of images. Often this ends in ontologisation: Violence and the image appear as precultural, ineluctable entities. Conversely, my contribution explores the question of where and how violence in images ‘speaks’, and of its codes of representation. The contribution investigates this ‘art of leaving traces’ for the spectator, in the economy of the visual-artistic codification of violence, with examples from the visual art (painting and photography) of the 19th and 20th centuries. In questioning image politics which are driven by the desire to suspend the distinction between representation and the presence of what is represented, this investigation also implies the deconstruction of the belief in the power of the image.