The Perfect/Imperfect series is a relatively unknown group of works, which explore the vocabulary of abstraction with geometric fields of colour that challenge the edges of the traditional canvas.
Lichtenstein made the Perfect paintings by drawing a line, following it along the canvas and returning to its starting point. He then filled in the demarcated geometric spaces with areas of flat colour, dots or diagonal lines.
The Imperfect paintings provide a playful variation on the same method: ‘The line goes out beyond the rectangle of the painting, as though I missed the edge somehow,’ Lichtenstein explained. To accommodate those deliberate creative errors, the Imperfect paintings include a triangular protuberance attached to the canvas that expands the painting beyond its rectangular frame and into the world of the viewer.
While the Perfect/Imperfect series was Lichtenstein’s most sustained incursion into the realm of abstraction, he also acknowledged it as a form of parody: ‘It seemed to be the most meaningless way to make an abstraction … the nameless or generic painting you might find in the background of a sitcom, the abstraction hanging over the couch.’