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Afrophoenix No. 1

A work made of steel.
© 2018 Melvin Edwards / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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  • A work made of steel.

Date:

1963

Artist:

Melvin Edwards
American, born 1937

About this artwork

In 1960 Melvin Edwards shifted his artistic practice from abstract painting to sculpture. Three years later,
he began Lynch Fragments, a series of welded steel assemblages made in response to the tumultuous social climate of the Civil Rights movement. Edwards addressed African American identity within an abstract sculptural language. Afrophoenix No. 1, one of the earliest objects from the series, exemplifies how the artist physically transformed found objects and brought them together in poetically suggestive, tension-filled compositions. Here the formal arrangement of steel elements evokes an equestrian bridle and bit. Chains, hammers, nails, spikes, and screws magnify the sculpture’s associative power, recalling implements of labor and torture. At the same time, the title references the mythological phoenix—alluding to death, rebirth, and transformation. Suggesting a range of meanings, the work demonstrates Edwards’s desire to fuse abstraction with personal and collective histories.

Currently Off View

Contemporary Art

Artist

Melvin Edwards

Title

Afrophoenix No. 1

Origin

United States

Date

1963

Medium

Steel

Dimensions

31.7 × 24.1 × 10.1 cm(12 1/2 × 9 1/2 × 4 in.)

Credit Line

Restricted gift of Stanley M. Freehling

Reference Number

1997.411

Copyright

© 2018 Melvin Edwards / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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