Art Term

Hard edge painting

Hard edge painting is an approach to abstract painting that became widespread in the 1960s and is characterized by areas of flat colour with sharp, clear (or ‘hard’) edges

Frank Stella, ‘Hyena Stomp’ 1962
Frank Stella
Hyena Stomp 1962
Tate
© ARS, NY and DACS, London 2017

The term ‘hard-edge painting’ was coined by Californian critic Jules Langster in 1959. He used it to describe the work of those abstract painters, particularly on the West Coast of America, who reacted to the more painterly or gestural forms of abstract expressionism by adopting a consciously impersonal approach to paint application. Their paintings were made up of monochromatic fields of clean-edged colour which reinforced the flatness of the picture surface.

This style of hard-edged geometric abstraction refers back to the work of Piet Mondrian and Josef Albers. It can be seen as a subdivision of post-painterly abstraction, which in turn emerged from colour field painting.

Artists associated with hard edge painting include Ellsworth Kelly, Frank Stella, William T. Williams and Sam Gilliam.

Related terms and concepts

Art Term

Colour field painting

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Art Term

Abstract art

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Art Term

Gestural

Gestural is a term used to describe the application of paint in free sweeping gestures with a brush

Art Term

Abstract expressionism

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Selected artists in the collection

Artist

Ellsworth Kelly

1923–2015
Artist

Frank Stella

born 1936

Selected artworks in the collection

Artwork
Artwork
Artwork