From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Hard-edge painting consists of rough, straight edges that are geometrically consistent. It encompasses rich solid colors, neatness of surface, and arranged forms all over the canvas. The Hard-edge painting style is related to Geometric abstraction, Post-painterly Abstraction, and Color Field painting. The term was coined by writer, curator and Los Angeles Times art critic Jules Langsner in 1959 to describe the work of painters from California, who, in their reaction to the more painterly or gestural forms of Abstract expressionism, adopted a knowingly impersonal paint application and delineated areas of color with particular sharpness and clarity. This approach to abstract painting became widespread in the 1960s, though California was its creative center.
Hard edge is also a simply descriptive term, as applicable to past works as to future artistic production. The term refers to the abrupt transition across "hard edges" from one color area to another color area. Color within "color areas" is generally consistent, that is, homogenous. Hard-edged painting can be both figurative or nonrepresentational.
In the late 1950s, Langsner and Peter Selz, then professor at the Claremont Colleges, observed a common link among the recent work of John McLaughlin, Lorser Feitelson, Karl Benjamin, Frederick Hammersley and Feitelson's wife Helen Lundeberg. The group of seven gathered at the Feitelson's home to discuss a group exhibition of this nonfigurative painting style. Curated by Langsner, Four Abstract Classicists opened at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1959. Helen Lundeberg was not included in the exhibit.