May 31, 2013

The Art of M.C. Escher

Mauritus Cornelis Escher (1898 – 1972) nicknamed “Mauk” or otherwise know as M.C. was a famous Dutch graphic artist. Uniquely left handed like Leonardo and Michelangelo, his optical illusions, mind boggling puzzles and mathematically inspired woodcuts, mezzo-tints and lithographs prints are still in high demand today.
(Escher, M.C. Ascending and Descending. c. 1960. lithograph)

Born in Leeuwarden in the Netherlands, Escher was the fourth child. Five years after, his family moved to Arnhem, where he spent most of his childhood. His father, a working civil engineer, had a huge influence on Escher's obsession with architecture and mathematics. Although incredibly intelligent, Escher failed all of his high schools exams and barely made it into the School for Architecture and Decorative Arts in Haarlem.

(Escher, M.C. Hand with Reflecting Sphere. c. 1935. lithograph)

His graphic art teacher Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita, looked at his sketches and immediately encouraged him to continue on with graphic arts. With only one week at the school, Escher informed his father that he would rather study graphic art instead of architecture.

(Escher, M.C. Sky and Water. c. 1938. woodcut)

Inspired by the Italian countryside, Escher traveled to Italy soon after he finished school. He spend long hours drawing and sketching for the various prints that he would make after he returned home. He also traveled through Switzerland, Spain and he made several returning trips to Italy. He met his wife in Italy in 1924 and they were both settled in Rome by 1935. As the rise of fascism became prominent, they moved to the Netherlands where Escher spent the rest of his life.  

(Escher, M.C. Belvedere. c. 1958. lithograph)

The patterns sculpted into the walls of the Alhambra, a fourteenth-century Moorish castle in Granada, Spain and the tessellations found on the floors of the Italian basilicas and churches has a huge influence on Escher’s work.

(Escher, M.C. Swans. c. 1938. woodcut) 

Tessellations are created from repeating shapes that cover a plane without any gaps or overlaps. A reoccurring theme in Escher's later work. His artistic style is characterized by the use of positive and negative shapes interacting together built around the concepts of infinity, unrealistic constructions and architecture.

(Escher, M.C. Reptiles. c. 1943. lithograph)

Manipulated architecture, perspective drawing and fantasy, Escher created his own and unique worlds with meticulous detail, mathematically accurate but physically impossible and his work is much appreciated here!

Enjoy! :)