Subject of the Nasher Sculpture Center’s 2015 traveling retrospective Melvin Edwards: Five Decades, the artist Melvin Edwards recently made a generous gift of four sculptures and two drawings presenting a spectrum of the artist’s concerns, methods of working, materials, and themes.
About Track 6: Now We Know
Working primarily in steel, American sculptor Melvin Edwards has produced a remarkable body of work redefining the modernist tradition of welded sculpture. His career spans crucial periods of upheaval and change in American culture and society, and his sculpture provides a critical bridge between modernist techniques and materials and contemporary approaches to the art object. As early as 1988, The New York Times critic Michael Brenson lauded him as “one of the best American sculptors.” Born in Houston in 1937, Edwards has worked in places ranging from Los Angeles and New York to Zimbabwe, Japan, and Cuba. He has brought his experiences of other cultures and languages, particularly those of Africa, into his practice, to explore the varied ways that art can forge bonds of connection and kinship.
Edwards has created works in various formats, including large-scale installations and public sculpture, which were presented and documented in the Nasher Sculpture Center’s 2015 traveling retrospective Melvin Edwards: Five Decades and its accompanying publication. Recently, Edwards generously gave to the Nasher four sculptures and two drawings presenting a spectrum of the artist’s concerns, methods of working, materials, and themes. Edwards is perhaps best known for his lynch fragments, an ongoing series of small-scale reliefs begun in the early 1960s during the civil rights movement and represented by two examples in the Nasher gift. Abstract yet highly evocative, lynch fragments offer in tightly compressed compositions thematically expansive expressions of commemoration, revelation, and protest. Their incorporation of tools and other familiar objects, such as chains, bolts, and horseshoes, testifies to the artist’s—and, by extension, the spectator’s—capacity for resistance and constructive response. Works by Julio González and David Smith provide examples of works by two artists who pioneered the use of welding in modern sculpture.
Hear different perspectives on works in Track 6: Now We Know.
Discover more about sculpture. Find bonus content like video tours, inspiration playlists, and insights from curators, educators, and living artists.
Best of Now We Know
Bringing together the greatest hits of Track 6: Now We Know artists and themes.
Video: Abstract Art with a Message: Conversation with Melvin Edwards
Article: Sculpture + History: Excerpt from Nasher Prize Dialogues 2018
Top recommendations to dig deeper into your favorite artworks and art trends.
Video: Highlights from a Town Hall Lecture with Theaster Gates
Video: Sculpture Poetry and Jazz with the Dallas Public Library
Article: Disobe-dient Objects
Suggested resources for families, educators, and the young at heart.
Family Guide: Melvin Edwards: Five Decades
Video: Welding Demonstration
Art Project: Create Art for an Important Cause: Activity Inspired by Carrie Mae Weems
Listen to a music playlist inspired by artworks in Track 6: Now We Know.
Listen on Spotify.
Explore the Collection
- Mevin Edwards, Five to the Bar, 1973
- Melvin Edwards, Now We Know, 1979
- Melvin Edwards, Iraq, 2003
- Melvin Edwards, Beyond Cabo Verde, 2006
- Melvin Edwards, Variation of My Father and The Spirit, 1972
- Melvin Edwards, Untitled, c. 1974
- Julio González, Hand with Barbs (Main aux piquants), 1937
- Julio González, Mask: Reclining Head (Masque: Tête couchée), c. 1930
- Simone Leigh, Kasama, 2020
- David Smith, Perfidious Albion, 1945