Melvin Way, self-taught American artist, 1954–2024

Melvin Way. Courtesy Andrew Edlin Gallery

Melvin Way, the American artist associated with self-taught art and folk art, has died yesterday, 4 February 2024. Way, who worked primarily in drawing, using ballpoint pen and ink on paper, created graphic works that combine text, mathematical equations and scientific elements ranging from chemistry and astronomy to alchemy.

Born in South Carolina, Way moved to New York City in the 1970s, where he played music and got a technical degree as a machine operator. Living with the challenges of mental illness, in the 1980s Way was living in a shelter for unhoused people, where he met artist Andrew Castrucci at an art workshop for the residents. At the art workshop, he began to produce drawings, many of which have now been shown at institutions including the American Folk Art Museum, New York; The Hayward Gallery, London; and la maison rouge, in Paris. His work is included the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the American Folk Art Museum; the American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; Centre Pompidou, Paris; and the Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne. Way’s most recent exhibitions included solo presentations at Salon du Dessin, Paris; Outsider Art Fair, New York, NY; and Andrew Edlin Gallery in New York, where his third solo show with the gallery has been planned for 2024.

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