Spanning half a century, Edwards’s career has extended far beyond the Lynch Fragments. In 1970 he showed a groundbreaking installation of environmental barbed-wire sculptures at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the first solo exhibition by an African American sculptor held at the museum. Melvin Edwards: Five Decades featured a recreation by the artist of these works, in addition to midsize and large-scale sculptures, maquettes reflecting his long career as a public sculptor, rarely seen drawings, and a selection of his sketchbooks. Organized by the Nasher’s Associate Curator Catherine Craft, the exhibition traveled to the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University (September 1, 2015 - January 10, 2016) and the Columbus Museum of Art (February 12 - May 8, 2016). A richly illustrated scholarly catalogue accompanied the exhibition.
Born in Houston, Texas in 1937, Edwards attended college in Los Angeles, graduating with a BFA from the University of Southern California. In 1967, he moved to New York City, where he lives today, dividing his time between his studio in Plainfield, New Jersey and residences, with studios, in Accord, New York and Dakar, Senegal. His work is held in many US museum collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Melvin Edwards: Five Decades is organized by the Nasher Sculpture Center and is presented by the Henry Luce Foundation. Additional major support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger.