This exhibition presents a group of previously unrealized installations from one of sculptor Melvin Edward’s most dynamic bodies of work. In a brief but prolific period between 1969 and 1970, Edwards developed a series of environmentally scaled sculptures using steel from barbed wire. Each work consists of a simple geometric construction that volumetrically subdivides a space. The punctuated lines of this material are pulled across a section of a room, using linearity to create depth and dimension and heightening what the artist describes as the “painfully dynamic and aggressive resistance” of the material. In dialogue with the contemporaneously emerging field of Postminimal art, Edwards’s barbed wire sculptures explore geometry in suspension. Meanwhile, the material’s evocative referentiality—to a social, agricultural, and militaristic history of containment and bondage—ensures these works resist resolution. While a small number of these artworks have historically been installed, the rest have remained as diagrammatic plans. Three of these installations, which recently entered Dia’s permanent collection, will be on view here for the first time. Together, they will interrupt the architectural frame of Dia Beacon, provocatively delineating passageways and obstructing corners.
Melvin Edwards was born in Houston, Texas, in 1937. He lives and works in New York.