ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Hard Edge Painting A Form Of Abstract Art

Updated on February 7, 2016

Hard Edge Painting A Form Of Abstract Art

Karl Benjamin, "Orange, Red, Umber" 1958
Karl Benjamin, "Orange, Red, Umber" 1958 | Source

Hard-edge painting is a form of abstract art that became widespread in the 1960s. The term was coined by the writer, curator and art critic Jules Langsner, along with Peter Selz in 1959, for his exhibition Four Abstract Classicist at San Fransisco Museum of Art. It is characterized by areas of flat color, with sharp clear or hard edges. It reinforces the idea of the canvas or paper as a field of abstract forms. It also emphasizes on the flatness of the surface, showing monochromatic areas of color.

According to the British critic Lawrence Alloway, "the whole picture becomes a unit, forms extend the length of the painting and are restricted to two or three tones. The result of this sparseness is that the spatial effect of figures on the field is avoided".

Key characteristics of hard-edge painting:

  • Flat surface
  • Clean lines
  • Colorful geometric areas
  • Canvas or paper as a unit

In some respects, it is related to minimalism, in that it is an anonymous construction of a simple object. The paintings are large, simplified with razor-sharp contours and broad areas of bright unmodulated color, that have been stained into an unprimed canvas.

Ellsworth Kelly, the American painter, sculptor, and printmaker, has been a leading exponent of the hard-edge style. The forms are finite and not intended to evoke any recollections of specific shapes in the spectator, that he may have encountered in some other connection. They are autonomous shapes, sufficient in themselves.

Hard-edge abstraction was part of a general tendency to move away from the expressive qualities. It is known for its economy of form, fullness of color, impersonal execution, and smooth surface planes. It differs greatly from its popular predecessor, the action painting.

Hard-edge differs from other types of geometric abstraction in that it rejects both lyrical and mathematical composition, because even in this simplified field, they are a means of personal expression for the artist.

This mini-movement of American Art was a sub-variant of Post-painterly abstraction - a trend away from gestural abstraction expressionism. Hard-edge painters went to great efforts to depersonalize their compositions in order to prioritize formal elements, such as line, shape, and color, and downplay the less important elements. They were more interested in design and structure, rather than color.

Reference sources:

  1. Hard-edge Painting - The Art Story;
  2. hard-edge painting/art/;
  3. Hard Edge Painting - Visual Arts Encyclopedia;


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Robie Benve profile image

      Robie Benve 

      2 years ago from Ohio

      I had seen this kind of paintings, but I had no idea that hard-edge abstract painting was actually a movement. I learned something new today, thanks!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)