Colour Field and Hard Edge National Museum Cardiff

Harlequinade (1964)
Jeffrey Steele (1931-)
Oil on canvas
Given by Charles Goldsmith, 1976

In the 1960s many artists produced abstract paintings that carefully avoided personal expression and reference to the visible world.

Often called colour-field or hard-edge abstraction, this type of painting used simple geometric shapes painted in flat colour.

The brushwork or touch of the artist was minimised to deny individual expression or subjectivity.

The arrangement of shapes and colours was often determined by mathematical rules or systems imposed by the artist on the painting.

In this way the paintings had their own internal logic, reinforcing their separation from the wider, external world.

The scale of many colour-field and hard-edge paintings created an immersive environment for the viewer.

The interplay of shapes and colours created unstable surfaces and optical illusions.

In this way the paintings required the audience to be active rather than passive viewers.

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