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Cologne
Cathedral

In this 1985 portfolio of four screen-prints, Andy Warhol depicts Cologne Cathedral in Germany. The lofty, gothic cathedral is today Germany’s most visited landmark and a symbol of Christianity’s stronghold over medieval Europe; its monumental image slots comfortably into Warhol’s iconoclastic oeuvre, despite his reputation as a portrait artist.

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Meaning & Analysis

Cologne Cathedral is a set of 4 screen prints with diamond dust on Lenox Museum Board, produced in 1985 marks an interesting shift in Warhol’s oeuvre. The collection was produced by Andy Warhol in 1985 and the prints each come in an edition size of 60.

In this collection, Warhol depicts the magnificent Cologne Cathedral in Cologne, Germany. The cathedral is Germany's most visited landmark and averages 20,000 visitors a day. The cathedral, which dates back to 1248, is the tallest twin-spired church in the world, making it an impressive feat of Gothic architecture. The cathedral now houses the reliquary of the Three Kings and is seen as a symbol of the strength of Christianity in both medieval and modern Europe.

Warhol renders the cathedral from the same perspective in each print, however the depictions vary due to the colours used by Warhol and the amount of detail he adds through the use of colourful lines which he layers over paint. Cologne Cathedral (F. & S. II.364) is the most sombre print of the collection with the cathedral being rendered in black against a grey backdrop. The other prints  in the collection feature much brighter and more vibrant colours, with Cologne Cathedral standing out due to its wide range of colours, ranging from pink to yellow, red to turquoise.

10 Facts About Andy Warhol's Cologne Cathedral

Cologne Cathedral (F. & S. II.361) by Andy Warhol

Cologne Cathedral (F. & S. II.361) © Andy Warhol 1985

1. Warhol gives Gothic architecture a Pop Art makeover in this series.

Within this unusual series, Warhol turned his commercially-inspired style towards Gothic architecture. Captured from a low angle, Warhol emphasised the enormity of the towering cathedral, and imbued it with distinctly Pop drama through colour and graphic outlines.

Cologne Cathedral (F. & S. II.364) by Andy Warhol

Cologne Cathedral (F. & S. II.364) © Andy Warhol 1985

2. Cologne Cathedral is Germany's most visited landmark.

Cologne Cathedral is, perhaps, Germany's most iconic landmark, attracting some 20,000 visitors a day. The cathedral dates back to 1248, and is the tallest twin-spired church in the world, making it an integral part of Germany's history and the history of Christianity itself. The cathedral houses the reliquary of the Three Kings, an enduring symbol of strength in the Christian religion.

Saint Apollonia (F. & S. II.330) by Andy Warhol

Saint Apollonia (F. & S. II.330) © Andy Warhol 1984

3. Warhol was fascinated with religious iconography.

As a devout Catholic himself, Warhol sometimes sought creative inspiration from historical religious iconography, as we also see in his Saint Apollonia series. While he lived with his mother, Julia Warhola, he prayed daily and continued to attend mass regularly throughout his life. It is hardly surprising that Warhol should turn to religious imagery, as it had been a constant source of guidance and comfort throughout his life.

Cologne Cathedral (F. & S. II.363) by Andy Warhol

Cologne Cathedral (F. & S. II.363) © Andy Warhol 1985