The Cathedral series by Roy Lichtenstein was created in 1969 and inspired by a photograph depicting an exhibition of serial artworks. Featured amongst those exhibited were impressionist Claude Monet’s famous oil paintings of the Rouen Cathedral in France.
Monet painted at the site of the cathedral, capturing transient stages of light moving across the building’s surface over the course of two years. His quintessentially painterly approach stands in sharp contrast to Lichtenstein’s commercially influenced style. Yet, Lichtenstein’s primary colours and Ben Day dots can be interpreted as obvious descendants of Monet’s impressionist brushwork.
Similar to how Monet’s paintings dissolve into individual brushstrokes upon close scrutiny, so do Lichtenstein’s handmade dots. Evidently, Cathedral series has the same visual quality in its eligibility as its source material, but is a distinctively mechanised structure; an expression of the 20th century.
This modern approach is manifested through Lichtenstein’s bold colour scheme. Cathedral 2 makes use of blue and red Ben Day dots, a colour combination that is effectively undecipherable when monitored from a short distance. Cathedral 2 stands in stark contrast to Cathedral 1, wherein the white bits between the dots allow for the contours of the cathedral to assemble, regardless of the distance from which the observer regards it.