You must first login or register to follow this artist.

b. 1937, United States

Melvin Edwards Biography

Wielding materials such as steel, barbed wire and machine parts, Melvin Edwards creates abstract sculptures and three-dimensional installations that investigate themes of social injustice, race and protest. He is considered a significant figure in the history of contemporary African-American art.

Read More

The artist currently works and lives in New York and New Jersey in the United States, and Dakar in Senegal.

Early Years

Melvin Edwards was born in Houston, Texas in 1937. In 1955, Edwards moved to Los Angeles to study at City College. He eventually transferred to the University of Southern California where he learned to paint, draw and weld. In between semesters, Edwards studied sculpture at the Los Angeles County Art Institute under the tutorship of Italian sculptor Renzo Fenci.

By the early 1960s, Edwards had moved into his own studio and began to focus solely on welding abstract sculptures. In 1965, he graduated from the University of Southern California with a BFA and was invited to show work in his first solo exhibition at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.

Artworks

In 1970, Melvin Edwards became the first Black sculptor to have a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Lynch Fragments Series (1963-Present)

In this series of work, Edwards welds together disparate scraps of found metal to create new art objects that investigate narratives of violence, oppression and creation.

The artist began Lynch Fragments (1963—Present) after finding inspiration in the socially-engaged practices of modernist sculptors Julio González and David Smith.

The Lynch Fragments series extends across three important periods of the artist's life. Beginning in the 1960s, Edwards created sculptures in response to the racial violence occurring throughout the United States. By the 1970s, Edwards' focus turned to the Vietnam War protests. Finally, from 1978 to present, the artist's series looks to nostalgia and an exploration into Edwards' interest in African culture and his own African heritage.

Each sculpture fuses metal objects such as nails, chains, spikes, bolts and hammers to create a threatening abstract form. Edwards' tangles of welded scraps refer to the history of brutality, violence and intense physical labour of the black body.

Public Commissions

Edwards is a firm supporter of public art. He has contributed public sculptures to museums, universities and public housing projects since the 1960s.

Public commissions include Homage to My Father and the Spirit (1969) at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Ithaca; Holder of the Light (1985) at Lafayette Gardens, Jersey City; and Asafo Kra No (1993) at the Utsukushi-Ga-Hara Open-Air Museum, Nagano Prefecture, Japan.

Smokehouse (1968-70)

Smokehouse (1968—70) was a New York City collective that helped to transform neighbourhoods by installing sculptures and painting murals on city walls. Edwards and artists William T. Williams, Guy Ciarcia and Billy Rose cleaned up sites around the city and actively engaged with members of different neighbourhoods to employ teenagers and elders who assisted during production.

Smokehouse used the transformative power of public art to enhance the value of contemporary urban life by creating an artist platform for the community, by the community.

Awards and Accolades

In 2020, Edwards was awarded the United States Artists Fellowship in Chicago. Edwards' work has been featured in several Biennales including the Venice Biennale, Italy in 2015 and the Marrakech Biennale, Morocco in 2016.

Edwards has presented work in a number of retrospective exhibitions including Melvin Edwards Sculpture: A Thirty-Year Retrospective 1963—1993 at the Neuberger Museum of Art in Purchase, New York (1993); and Melvin Edwards: Five Decades at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, Texas (2015).

Melvin Edwards' works are featured in many collections including Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C.; Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and Brooklyn Museum, New York.

Exhibitions

Melvin Edwards had exhibited widely.

Select solo exhibitions include Brighter Days, City Hall Park, New York (2021); Melvin Edwards, Stephen Friedman Gallery, London (2020); Melvin Edwards: Crossroads, Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore (2019—20); Melvin Edwards: The Sculptor of Resistance, Auroras Gallery, São Paulo (2019); Painted Sculpture, Alexander Gray Associates, New York (2019); Melvin Edwards: Lynch Fragments, MASP, São Paulo (2018); and Melvin Edwards, Galerie Buchholz, Berlin (2017).

Select group exhibitions include Epistrophy, Pace Gallery, New York (2022); Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America, New Museum, New York (2021); Kalunga, Transmission Gallery, Glasgow (2021); Museum for Preventive Imagination — Editorial, Museo d'Arte Contemporanea di Roma (MACRO), Rome (2020—22); Theater of Operations: The Gulf Wars 1991—2011, MoMA PS1, New York (2019—20); and African American Art in the 20th Century, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C. (2019—22).

Galleries

Melvin Edwards is represented by Galerie Buchholz in Berlin, Cologne and New York and Stephen Friedman Gallery in London.

Website

Melvin Edwards representative gallery website can be found here.

Phoebe Bradford | Ocula | 2022

Melvin Edwards
featured artworks

Straighten Up to Contemplate by Melvin Edwards contemporary artwork sculpture
Melvin Edwards Straighten Up to Contemplate, 2020 Stainless steel
337.8 x 137.2 x 91.4 cm
Pace Gallery
Dig Again by Melvin Edwards contemporary artwork sculpture
Melvin Edwards Dig Again, 1999 Welded steel
43 x 15 x 19 cm
Galerie Buchholz Request Price & Availability
Untitled by Melvin Edwards contemporary artwork works on paper
Melvin Edwards Untitled, c. 1970 Graphite on paper
58 x 73 x 3 cm
Galerie Buchholz Request Price & Availability
Untitled Barbed Wire Study by Melvin Edwards contemporary artwork works on paper
Melvin Edwards Untitled Barbed Wire Study, 1970 Graphite on paper
58 x 73 x 3 cm (incl frame)
Galerie Buchholz Request Price & Availability
Samora (For Samora Machel) by Melvin Edwards contemporary artwork sculpture
Melvin Edwards Samora (For Samora Machel), 1986 Welded steel
33 x 23 x 20.5 cm
Galerie Buchholz Request Price & Availability

Melvin Edwards
recent exhibitions

View 1 More
View 1 More

Represented by this
Ocula Member Gallery

Galerie Buchholz contemporary art gallery in Berlin, Germany
Galerie Buchholz Berlin, New York, Cologne
View 1 More
Learn more about the market for works
by Melvin Edwards.
Enquire for a confidential discussion. Enquire Now
Simon Fisher, Ocula CEO
Ocula Advisor
Simon Fisher
Christoper Taylor, Ocula Advisor
Ocula Advisor
Christopher Taylor
Eva Fuchs, Ocula Advisor
Ocula Advisor
Eva Fuchs
Rory Mitchell, Ocula Advisor
Ocula Advisor
Rory Mitchell

Melvin Edwards in
Ocula Advisory

Ocula discover the best in contemporary art icon.
Follow Melvin Edwards
Stay ahead.
Receive updates on new artworks,
exhibitions and articles.
Your personal data is held in accordance with our privacy policy.
Follow
Do you have an Ocula account?
Ocula discover the best in contemporary art icon.
Get Access
Join Ocula to request price and availability of artworks, exhibition price lists and build a collection of favourite artists, galleries and artworks.
Do you have an Ocula account? Login
What best describes your interest in art?

Subscribe to our newsletter for upcoming exhibitions, available works, events and more.
By clicking Sign Up or Continue with Facebook or Google, you agree to Ocula's Terms & Conditions. Your personal data is held in accordance with our Privacy Policy.
Thank you for joining us. Just one more thing...
Soon you will receive an email asking you to complete registration. If you do not receive it then you can check and edit the email address you entered.
Close
Thank you for joining us.
You can now request price and availability of artworks, exhibition price lists and build a collection of favourite artists, galleries and artworks.
Close
Welcome back to Ocula
Enter your email address and password below to login.
Reset Password
Enter your email address to receive a password reset link.
Reset Link Sent
We have sent you an email containing a link to reset your password. Simply click the link and enter your new password to complete this process.
Login