HARD EDGE PAINTING

Dates: 1959-1970

Origin: Great Britain, United States

Key Artists: Ellsworth Kelly, Kenneth Noland

Term applied to abstract paintings composed of simple geometric or organic forms executed in broad, flat colours and delineated by precise, sharp edges. The term was coined by the Californian art critic Jules Langsner in 1958 and intended by him merely as an alternative to the term ‘geometric abstraction’. Generally, however, it is used in a more specific sense: whereas geometric abstraction can be used to describe works with large numbers of separate, possibly modelled, elements creating a spatial effect, hard-edge painting refers only to works comprised of a small number of large, flat forms, generally avoiding the use of pictorial depth. It is in relation to this type of painting, particularly as produced by artists such as Ellsworth Kelly, Kenneth Noland, Barnett Newman and Ad Reinhardt from the mid-1950s to the end of the 1960s, that the term acquired general currency. Characteristic of this style are Newman’s The Gate (1954; Amsterdam, Stedel. Mus.) and Kelly’s White Black (1961; Chicago, IL, A. Inst.).

“Hard-edge painting.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. 12 Mar. 2010 <http://www.oxfordartonline.com/subscriber/article/grove/art/T036613&gt;

Ellsworth Kelly

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