Cleveland Museum of Art acquires Melvin Edwards sculptures

Recent acquisitions by the Cleveland Museum of Art include an important watercolor by Paul Cézanne; a mixed-media artwork by Rashid Johnson and three sculptures from Melvin Edwards series, Lynch Fragments, that build upon the CMA’s commitment to diversifying its collections.

Long Term (1980), À Lusaka (1982) and Miliki (1987) by Melvin Edwards further enhance the Cleveland Museum of Art commitment to diversifying its collections and presenting a broad range of histories in its galleries.

Long TermÀ Lusaka and Miliki belong to an ongoing series, Lynch Fragments, that Melvin Edwards began in 1963. The Lynch Fragments are relatively small-scale, abstract metal wall reliefs that feature recognizable objects—often objects that could serve as weapons, such as chains, knives and railroad spikes. Through Edwards’s composition and welding technique, familiar elements lose their functional associations and yield innovative sculptural shapes. These forms reveal Edwards’s influences, which range from Western modernist sculpture and jazz to traditions of African metalsmithing.

The series title, Lynch Fragments, the artist has explained, is reflective of his intention to encourage consideration of the violence and destruction wrought by racism in and beyond American society. The title is not, he has said, to be taken literally; from the outset he determined that the series would never depict narrative scenes or recognizable figurative imagery. Even without literal scenes of violence, the works invite a direct confrontation with the viewer; they are displayed at eye level and protrude off the wall into the viewer’s space.

Through the Lynch Fragments series, Edwards combines his commitment to abstraction with his investment in the social and racial histories unfolding outside his studio walls. In this sense, his work shares attributes with peers that include David Hammons, Jack Whitten and Martin Puryear, whose works are represented in the CMA’s collection and offer rich context for this acquisition.

About the Cleveland Museum of Art

The Cleveland Museum of Art is renowned for the quality and breadth of its collection, which includes more than 63,000 artworks and spans 6,000 years of achievement in the arts. The museum is a significant international forum for exhibitions, scholarship and performing arts. One of the top comprehensive art museums in the nation and free of charge to all, the Cleveland Museum of Art is in the dynamic University Circle neighborhood.

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