Roy Lichtenstein’s Cathedral series was created in 1969, about a decade after Pop Art was established in the United States. The artist saw photographs of impressionist Claude Monet’s Rouen Cathedrals, which inspired him to manufacture his own versions of the subject matter.
In this series, Lichtenstein is increasingly thoughtful about his place in art history, and the implications his appropriations will have on future generations of artists. He has chosen to rework a series based on a series, producing a sequence of prints that virtually resemble magnifications of a reproduction.
Dark blue Ben Day dots make up the composition of Cathedral 3. Similar toCathedral 1, Lichtenstein is here leaving room for the white background to peek through between the dots, allowing for the contours of the cathedral to assemble.
Although the two series resemble each other in wanting to highlight the act of seeing over the subject matter, there is one essential difference. Lichtenstein’s primary emphasis rests on revising mass reproduction techniques in his prints. Therefore, Monet’s cathedral paintings function as art historical footnotes for him. Lichtenstein demonstrates how images of art become common property and are codified for public consumption through various media like advertising and printing.