Hard edge painting is an abstract painting style from the 1960s, defined by the use of flat colours with precise and well-defined edges.
The term ‘hard-edge painting’ was coined by the Californian critic Jules Langsner in 1959. He used this term to describe the work of abstract painters, particularly those on the West Coast of the United States. These artists reacted against the more expressive and gestural forms of abstract expressionism by adopting a deliberately impersonal approach to applying paint. Their paintings featured monochromatic areas of colour with sharp, well-defined edges, emphasising the two-dimensionality of the canvas.
This style of hard-edged geometric abstraction has its roots in the art of Piet Mondrian and Josef Albers and can be considered a subset of post-painterly abstraction, which, in turn, evolved from colour field painting.
Prominent artists associated with hard edge painting include Ellsworth Kelly, Frank Stella, William T. Williams, and Sam Gilliam.