The term Hard-edge painting was coined by the critic Jules Langsner in 1958 for a exhibition of four painters in the summer 1959 in Los Angeles.They were named Four Abstract Classicists to describe those abstract painters, who in their reaction to the more painterly or gestural forms of Abstract Expressionism adopted a particularly impersonal paint application and delineated areas of colour with particular sharpness and clarity. The name of this painters are: Lorser Feitelson, John McLaughlin, Frederick Hammersley and Karl Benjamin. This exhibition was shown in 1960 in London too and the critic Lawrence Alloway coined the term West-Coast Hard-Edge this established a connection to painters as Ellsworth Kelly and Kenneth Noland.

Hard-edge painting is a style that uses very straight and clean linear patterns and/or lines to create a 3-D effect on a 2-D surface. Many tools can be used to do such work; most often, normal masking tape. Using a flat and very soft paintbrush or a roller can have a nice smooth look without seeing any of the marks usually left by rough bristles. Palette knives can also be used to create these patterns.

This kind of approach to abstract painting became extremely widespread in the 1960s.

Representative of this movement are Josef Albers, Al Held, Ellsworth Kelly, Alexander Libermann, Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland and Frank Stella