Melvin Edwards

Agricole (2016)
Welded steel and chains
Agricole (2016)
Welded steel and chains
Homage to the Poet Leon Gontran Damas (1978–81)
Steel in 5 parts; dimensions variable
Homage to the Poet Leon Gontran Damas (1978–81)
Steel in 5 parts; dimensions variable
To Cross Water (1990)
Welded steel
30h x 28w x 27d in (76.2h x 71.1w x 68.6d cm)
To Cross Water (1990)
Welded steel
30h x 28w x 27d in (76.2h x 71.1w x 68.6d cm)
Weapon of Freedom  (1986)
Welded steel; 11h x 9w x 6d in (27.94h x 22.86w x 15.24d cm) 
Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art at Rollins College, Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Winter Park, FL
Weapon of Freedom (1986)
Welded steel; 11h x 9w x 6d in (27.94h x 22.86w x 15.24d cm)
Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art at Rollins College, Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Winter Park, FL
Chaino (1964)
Welded steel and chains
62h x 102w x 26d in (157.48h x 259.08w x 66.04d cm)
Collection of the Williams College Museum of Art
Chaino (1964)
Welded steel and chains
62h x 102w x 26d in (157.48h x 259.08w x 66.04d cm)
Collection of the Williams College Museum of Art
Beyond Cabo Verde (2006)
Welded steel
19.75h x 19.75w x 6.75d in (50.17h x 50.17w x 17.15d cm)
Beyond Cabo Verde (2006)
Welded steel
19.75h x 19.75w x 6.75d in (50.17h x 50.17w x 17.15d cm)
Lo (For Locardia Ndandarika) (1997)
Welded steel
13.75h x 9.25w x 6.88d in (34.92h x 23.5w x 17.48d cm)
Lo (For Locardia Ndandarika) (1997)
Welded steel
13.75h x 9.25w x 6.88d in (34.92h x 23.5w x 17.48d cm)
Avenue B Wire Vari #1 (1973)
Spray paint and ink on paper; 22.8h x 35w in (57.91h x 88.9w cm)
Collection Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
Avenue B Wire Vari #1 (1973)
Spray paint and ink on paper; 22.8h x 35w in (57.91h x 88.9w cm)
Collection Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
Nam (1973)
Welded steel
15h x 15w x 7.5d in (38.1h x 38.1w x 19.05d cm)
Collection of the Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester, NY
Nam (1973)
Welded steel
15h x 15w x 7.5d in (38.1h x 38.1w x 19.05d cm)
Collection of the Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester, NY
Machete for Gregory (1974)
Welded steel, 31h x 40w in (78.74h x 101.6w cm)
Collection Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX
Machete for Gregory (1974)
Welded steel, 31h x 40w in (78.74h x 101.6w cm)
Collection Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX
Loving Spiral (2005)
Welded steel; 11.8h x 8w x 11d in (29.97h x 20.32w x 27.94d cm)
Collection Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
Loving Spiral (2005)
Welded steel; 11.8h x 8w x 11d in (29.97h x 20.32w x 27.94d cm)
Collection Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
Texcali (1965)
Welded steel
19.8h x 15.3w x 8.5d in (50.29h x 38.86w x 21.59d cm)
Texcali (1965)
Welded steel
19.8h x 15.3w x 8.5d in (50.29h x 38.86w x 21.59d cm)
E.C.'s View (1979)
Welded steel
21h x 40w x 27d in (53.34h x 101.6w x 68.58d cm)
E.C.'s View (1979)
Welded steel
21h x 40w x 27d in (53.34h x 101.6w x 68.58d cm)
Avenue B (1975)
Welded steel
23.75h x 30.5w x 18.25d in (60.33h x 77.47w x 46.36d cm)
Avenue B (1975)
Welded steel
23.75h x 30.5w x 18.25d in (60.33h x 77.47w x 46.36d cm)
At Crossroads (1984)
Welded steel
10.5h x 8w x 8.88d in (26.67h x 20.32w x 22.56d cm)
At Crossroads (1984)
Welded steel
10.5h x 8w x 8.88d in (26.67h x 20.32w x 22.56d cm)
The Lifted X (1965)
Welded steel; 65h x 45w x 22d in (165.1h x 114.3w x 55.88d cm)
Collection Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
The Lifted X (1965)
Welded steel; 65h x 45w x 22d in (165.1h x 114.3w x 55.88d cm)
Collection Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Kasangadila: For Francisco Romão de Oliveira e Silva (2004)
Welded steel
15h x 15w x 6.75d in (38.1h x 38.1w x 17.15d cm)
Kasangadila: For Francisco Romão de Oliveira e Silva (2004)
Welded steel
15h x 15w x 6.75d in (38.1h x 38.1w x 17.15d cm)
Curtain for William and Peter (1969/2012)
Barbed wire and chain
138.5h x 220w in (351.79h x 558.8w cm)
Curtain for William and Peter (1969/2012)
Barbed wire and chain
138.5h x 220w in (351.79h x 558.8w cm)
Some Bright Morning (1963)
Welded steel
14.5h x 9.3w x 5d in (36.83h x 23.62w x 12.7d cm)
Some Bright Morning (1963)
Welded steel
14.5h x 9.3w x 5d in (36.83h x 23.62w x 12.7d cm)

Biography

 view entire CV PDF 178 K

Melvin Edwards (b.1937) is a pioneer in the history of contemporary African-American art and sculpture. Born in Houston, Texas, he began his artistic career at the University of Southern California, where he met and was mentored by Hungarian painter Francis de Erdely. In 1965 the Santa Barbara Museum of Art organized Edwards’ first solo exhibition, which launched his professional career. He moved to New York City in 1967, where shortly after his arrival, his work was exhibited at the then newly created Studio Museum, and in 1970 became the first African-American sculptor to have works presented in a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum.

Edwards’ work reflects his engagement with the history of race, labor, violence, as well as with themes of African Diaspora. Making welding his preferred medium, his compositions are studies in abstraction and minimalism. Edwards creates sculptures by welding metal objects such as tools, knives, hooks, and machine parts, to construct objects distinguished by formal simplicity and powerful materiality. He is best known for his sculptural series Lynch Fragments, which spans three periods: the early 1960s, when he responded to racial violence in the United States; the early 1970s, when his activism concerning the Vietnam War motivated him to return to the series; and from 1978 to the present, as he continues to explore a variety of themes. Edwards has felt deeply connected to Africa and the African Diaspora since the 1970s, when he and his late wife, poet Jayne Cortez, began visiting the continent. He taught metal-welding in several countries, establishing workshops and mentoring a younger generation of African welders.

Edwards has had a longstanding commitment to public art, working on projects for public housing and universities since the 1960s, including Homage to My Father and the Spirit (1969) at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York; Holder of the Light (1985) at Lafayette Gardens, Jersey City, NJ; and Asafokra (1990) at the Utsukushi-Ga-Hara Open-Air Museum, Nagano Prefecture, Japan. His large-scale public sculptures exemplify his extraordinary range of aesthetic expression as well as his keen commitment to abstraction.

Melvin Edwards’ work has been widely exhibited nationally and internationally. In 1993, the Neuberger Museum of Art in Purchase, NY, organized Melvin Edwards Sculpture: A Thirty-Year Retrospective 1963–1993, an exhibition documenting his artistic development. In 2015 the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, TX organized a second retrospective, Melvin Edwards: Five Decades, featuring work from the early 1960s to the present. This retrospective exhibition traveled to the Zimmerli Museum of Art, Rutgers University, NJ, and is currently on view at the Columbus Museum of Art, OH. His work has recently been included in exhibitions All the World’s Futures, 56th Venice Biennale, Italy (2015); Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties, Brooklyn Museum, NY (2014); Blues for Smoke, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (2013) and at The Geffen Contemporary at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA (2012); Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles, 1960–1980, MoMA PS1, Queens, NY (2012); African American Art: Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Era, and Beyond, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC (2012) and at Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA (2011); and as a part of the Dak’art Biennial in 2010; among others. His work is included in the upcoming exhibition Postwar: Art Between the Pacific and the Atlantic 1945-1965, at Haus der Kunst, Munich (September 16, 2016–February 26, 2017); and a solo exhibition at Oklahoma Contemporary, OK (October 27, 2016–January 2017). Edwards’ work is represented in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York; Albright–Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art at Rollins College, Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Winter Park, FL; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; among others. Edwards taught at Rutgers University from 1972 to 2002. In 2014, he received an Honorary Doctorate from the Massachusetts College of Art, Boston.

Articles / Reviews

  • Edwards New York Times  April 27, 2017  PDF 127 K
  • Edwards The Oklahoman  May 1, 2016  PDF 567 K
  • Edwards Sculpture Magazine  May 2016  PDF 0.8 MB
  • Edwards Artforum  May 2015  PDF 0.9 MB
  • Edwards Wall Street Journal  March 31, 2015  PDF 1 MB
  • Edwards Artforum  March 9, 2015  PDF 566 K
  • Edwards Frieze Magazine  March 2015  PDF 152 K
  • Edwards ArtReview  March 2015  PDF 237 K
  • Edwards Arts + Culture  March 2015  PDF 768 K
  • Edwards Dallas Observer  February 16, 2015  PDF 391 K
  • Edwards Dallas Morning News  February 16, 2015  PDF 592 K
  • Edwards D Magazine  February 6, 2015  PDF 148 K
  • Edwards Fort Worth Star-Telegram  February 5, 2015  PDF 247 K
  • Edwards Art+Auction  February 2015  PDF 1.2 MB
  • Edwards Nasher Sculpture Center  January 31, 2015  PDF 0.9 MB
  • Edwards Surface Magazine  February 2015  PDF 425 K
  • Edwards Dallas Morning News  January 30, 2015  PDF 399 K
  • Edwards Time Out London  December 10, 2014  PDF 152 K
  • Edwards BOMB Magazine  November 24, 2014  PDF 1.5 MB
  • Edwards Hyperallergic  November 22, 2014  PDF 661 K
  • Edwards Charlottesville Tomorrow  August 22, 2014  PDF 213 K
  • Edwards Nasher Sculpture Center Summer Newsletter  June 2014  PDF 458 K
  • Edwards New York Times  March 20, 2014  PDF 280 K
  • Edwards Le Monde  March 2014  PDF 163 K
  • Edwards Art in America  January 2014  PDF 1.9 MB
  • Edwards Grio.com  December 8, 2013  PDF 477 K
  • Edwards Art Basel Miami Beach 2013 Brochure    PDF 194 K
  • Edwards New York Observer  March 12, 2013  PDF 307 K
  • Edwards Artcritical  December 1, 2012  PDF 43 K
  • Edwards New York Times  October 21, 2012  PDF 297 K
  • Edwards Glasstire  October 14, 2012  PDF 169 K
  • Edwards Daily Progess  October 7, 2012  PDF 84 K
  • Edwards Inman Gallery  September 2012  PDF 233 K
  • Edwards Daily Progress  April 29, 2012  PDF 178 K
  • Edwards University of Delaware  February 2012  PDF 0.8 MB
  • Edwards NKA: Journal of Contemporary African Art  Spring 2012  PDF 1.4 MB
  • Edwards Art Practical  October 26, 2011  PDF 352 K
  • Edwards Root  October 26, 2011  PDF 63 K
  • Edwards Wall Street Journal  October 13, 2011  PDF 180 K
  • Edwards Los Angeles Times  October 10, 2011  PDF 272 K
  • Edwards Artforum Best of  2010  PDF 4.6 MB
  • Edwards Art in America  December 1, 2010  PDF 67 K
  • Edwards School of Visual Arts  November 8, 2010  PDF 1.6 MB
  • Edwards Artforum  November 2010  PDF 160 K
  • Edwards New York Times  October 15, 2010  PDF 105 K
  • Edwards Artforum  September 22, 2010  PDF 142 K
  • Edwards Artslant  September 12, 2010  PDF 286 K
  • Edwards Arte por Excelencias  September 11, 2010  PDF 102 K
  • Edwards New York Times  November 14, 2006  PDF 171 K
  • Edwards New York Times  April 7, 2006  PDF 531 K
  • Edwards New York Times  May 23, 1999  PDF 66 K
  • Edwards Art In America  January 1997  PDF 356 K
  • Edwards Arts & Entertainment  December 29, 1996  PDF 107 K
  • Edwards Charlotte Observer  December 29, 1996  PDF 522 K
  • Edwards Breaks  November 13, 1996  PDF 197 K
  • Edwards Dartmouth  November 2, 1994  PDF 670 K
  • Edwards Dartmouth  October 5, 1994  PDF 555 K
  • Edwards Black Scholar  Winter 1994  PDF 365 K
  • Edwards Black Scholar  Winter 1994  PDF 330 K
  • Edwards New York Times  November 28, 1993  PDF 478 K
  • Edwards New York Reviews  October 1993  PDF 592 K
  • Edwards New York Times  May 23, 1993  PDF 394 K
  • Edwards New York Times  April 18, 1993  PDF 235 K
  • Edwards Star Ledger  April 17, 1993  PDF 147 K
  • Edwards New York Times  April 4, 1993  PDF 499 K
  • Edwards Westchester  April 1, 1993  PDF 283 K
  • Edwards Scarsdale Inquirer  March 26, 1993  PDF 303 K
  • Edwards Art in America  March 1993  PDF 706 K
  • Edwards 新美術  November 6, 1992  PDF 665 K
  • Edwards New York Times  November 8, 1991  PDF 733 K
  • Edwards New York Times  November 3, 1991  PDF 1.2 MB
  • Edwards NewsOK  March 6, 1991  PDF 127 K
  • Edwards  January 4, 1991  PDF 302 K
  • Edwards New York Times  June 3, 1990  PDF 90 K
  • Edwards New York Times  March 30, 1990  PDF 515 K
  • Edwards New York Times  March 11, 1990  PDF 576 K
  • Edwards Afro Times  March 3, 1990  PDF 580 K
  • Edwards  1990s  PDF 482 K
  • Edwards New Jersey Goodlife  October 1989  PDF 797 K
  • Edwards  July 2, 1989  PDF 590 K
  • Edwards  May 7, 1989  PDF 497 K
  • Edwards  May 7, 1989  PDF 511 K
  • Edwards New York Times  March 12, 1989  PDF 68 K
  • Edwards New York Times  March 3, 1989  PDF 227 K
  • Edwards Bronx Museum of The Arts  January 25, 1989  PDF 656 K
  • Edwards New York Times  December 23, 1988  PDF 217 K
  • Edwards New York Times  July 14, 1985  PDF 1 MB
  • Edwards Sunday Star-Ledger  July 7, 1985  PDF 417 K
  • Edwards Dialogue  May/June 1983  PDF 1 MB
  • Edwards Encore American & Worldwide News  November, 1981  PDF 1.1 MB
  • Edwards Art in America  October 1980  PDF 203 K
  • Edwards Time  March 31, 1980  PDF 487 K
  • Edwards Artforum  May 1970  PDF 483 K
  • Edwards Lifestyles    PDF 550 K