ART 4 2-DAY 17 June v.9.b0
DEATH: 1898 BURNE~JONES
Born on 17 (07?) June 1660:
Jan van Mieris, Dutch painter who died on 17 March 1690.
Born in Leiden, elder brother of Willem van Mieris [02 Jun 1662 – 26 Jan 1747] and son of Frans van Mieris I [16 Apr 1635 – 12 Mar 1681], under whom he first studied. He had intended to study under Gérard de Lairesse [11 Sep 1640 – 28 Jul 1711 bur.], but was dissuaded by the latter's dissolute lifestyle; it is not known under whom he then studied. He became a member of the Leiden guild on 14 June 1686 and in 1688 set out for Italy. In Venice he failed to find purchasers, and in Florence he received an invitation from Cosimo III de' Medici but was turned away on religious grounds. He died in Rome. He painted principally history subjects, but his earliest works were apparently genre scenes in his father's manner.
— Jan van Mieris werd op 17 juni 1660 geboren in Leiden. Na een korte leertijd in het atelier van zijn vader, Frans van Mieris de Oude, ging Jan in de leer bij Gerard Lairesse om historische schilderkunst te studeren. Maar vanwege de weinig voorbeeldige levenswijze van Lairesse zag hij daar vrij snel weer van af. Op 14 juni 1686 voegde hij zich bij het St. Lucasgilde. Twee jaar later vertrok van Mieris naar Italië, waar hij, blijkende uit brieven gericht aan zijn moeder, geen schilderij verkocht. Op 17 maart 1690 stierf Jan van Mieris, ongehuwd en kinderloos, in Rome.
Lady and Cavalier (1680, 29x22cm)
–- S*#> Nude Sleeping in an Armchair (40x32cm; 1420x1141pix, 145kb) _ Her skin is covered with a dense network of black cracks. There is a silver gilt pitcher on the ground next to the armchair, which is backed up against a sculpted stone stela. Either she is in a forest, or the wall is covered with a tapestry landscape of a forest.
— Minerva verheft de kunsten (1685, 80x64cm)
Born on 17 June 1898: Maurits Cornelius Escher,
Dutch mathematician, artist specialized in Optical
Art. He died on 27 March 1972.
M.C. Escher was a graphic artist noted for his distinctive prints depicting intricate interlocking patterns and optical paradoxes and illusions. He was especially accomplished in lithography and wood engraving. Escher's early work consists mainly of landscapes and townscapes, but beginning about 1936 his work became increasingly concerned with scenes of his own creation, especially with the repeating patterns and spatial illusions for which he is best known.
Escher's first images in this realm took the form of elaborate patterns in which repeated figures of stylized animals, birds, or fish densely interlock, leaving no spaces between the figures. From about 1940 his work became more fantastic in its spatial effects. In images of bizarre buildings, Escher ingeniously toyed with the viewer's perceptions, creating such optical illusions as staircases that appear to lead both upward and downward in the same direction. He also explored the perceptual conflict created by a surface that appears to be both flat and three-dimensional. In the lithograph Reptiles (1943), for example, parts of a stylized pattern of interlocking alligators seem to come to life, walking off the edge of the paper. Although Escher had no training in mathematics or sciences, his precise and analytical approach to the visual world has had an especially strong appeal to mathematicians and to psychologists interested in visual perception.
Escher was born in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands. From 1919 to 1922 he studied at the School of Architecture and Ornamental Design in Haarlem, where he became highly skilled in the technique of woodcut. From 1922 to 1934 he lived in Italy, then successively in Switzerland and Belgium; in 1941 he settled in Baarn, the Netherlands.
After Escher had said goodbye to the south [in 1936], his work took a direction that was eventually to lead to his becoming famous. From now on he was no longer concerned with expressing his observations - or only rarely - but rather with the construction of the images in his own mind. These images dealt with the regular division of the plane, limitless space, rings and spirals in space, mirror images, inversion, polyhedrons, relativities, the conflict between the flat and the spatial, and impossible constructions. Even in his Haarlem period, and occasionally during his years in Italy, he had made hesitant moves in this direction, but only now did they take shape systematically and start to absorb him. He had the feeling that until then he had merely been doing finger exercises.
The laws that were to fascinate Escher most until his death were those of the regular division of the plane. He had experimented with them already in Haarlem. It was then, in October 1922, that he had visited the Alhambra for the first time. 'The fitting together of congruent figures whose shapes evoke in the observer an association with an object or a living creature intrigued me increasingly after that first Spanish visit in 1922,' Escher wrote in 1941, in an article in De Delver, an art periodical. 'And although at the time I was mainly interested in free graphic art, I periodically returned to the mental gymnastics of my puzzles. In about 1924 1 first printed a piece of fabric with a wood block of a single animal motif which is repeated according to a particular system, always bearing in mind the principle that there may not be any "empty spaces".. . . I exhibited this piece of printed fabric together with my other work, but it was not successful. This is partly the reason why it was not until 1936, after I had visited the Alhambra a second time, that I spent a large part of my time puzzling with animal shapes.'
Escher's development in this direction after 1936 can be attributed not only to this second visit to the Alhambra, but also to his departure from Italy. In 1959 he wrote about this (in the introduction to The Graphic Work): 'In Switzerland, Belgium and Holland where I successively established myself, I found the outward appearance of landscape and architecture less striking than those which are particularly to be seen in the southern part of Italy. Thus I felt compelled to withdraw from the more or less direct and true to life illustrating of my surroundings. No doubt this circumstance was in a high degree responsible for bringing my inner visions into being.' In the same introduction, Escher wrote about his prints dating from after 1936 that they were created with a view to communicating a specific line of thought. The ideas that are basic to them often bear witness to my amazement and wonder at the laws of nature which operate in the world around us. He who wonders discovers that this is in itself a wonder. By keenly confronting the enigmas that surround us, and by considering and analyzing the observations that I had made, I ended up in the domain of mathematics. Although I am absolutely without training or knowledge in the exact sciences, I often seem to have more in common with mathematicians than with my fellow-artists.
M.C. Escher, the creator of instantly recognizable, eerily precise renderings
of infinity and logical absurdities, lived a very peaceful life for an artist.
The youngest of three sons, he was born Maurits Cornelis Escher (called
"Mauk" for short) in Leeuwarden, Netherlands, on June 17, 1898. Mauk’s father
was a civil engineer and his mother the daughter of a government minister.
When Mauk was five, his family moved to Arnhem, a more centrally located
city near the German border. In Arnhem, Mauk did terribly in all his high
school classes except for art, where his teacher taught him to make linoleum
cuts -- a technique similar to woodcutting but using pliable, carved linoleum
sheets as the material from which prints are made. His earliest surviving
work from his high school days is a purple linocut of his father, an indication
of the linocuts, woodcuts and mezzotints that would later represent the
major techniques of Escher’s art.
Although Escher failed his high school final exams and never officially graduated, he pursued further studies at the Technical College in Delft from 1918 to 1922, and then at the School for Architecture and Decorative Arts in Haarlem. At Haarlem, Escher had an important mentor, the artist S. Jessurun de Mesquita, who encouraged Escher to continue with drawing and woodcutting. At this time, as evidence by illustrations for Easter Flowers (1921), some of Escher’s favorite themes began to emerge: mirrors, crystals, and spheres. From 1921 to 1923, Escher concluded his studies to travel with his family and friends to Italy and Spain. During this visit, Escher paid his first visit to Alhambra, a Moorish palace in Grenada with intricate geometric mosaics that fascinated the young artist. In the spring of 1923, Escher also met a beautiful young woman, Jetta Umiker, during his travels. By August of the same year, when his first one-man show opened in Siena, the two were engaged.
The couple married in 1924 and moved to Rome; they eventually had three sons. Escher’s fame as an artist grew significantly by this time, and during the next 12 years he exhibited all over Italy, Switzerland and Holland, mostly producing woodcuts of conventional landscapes and architectural forms. In 1936, however, a major turning point occurred in Escher’s artwork — an interest in tessellation. During a second visit to Alhambra, Escher spent many days sketching the intricate mosaics that originally fascinating him 14 years prior. These Alhambra tiles are examples of patterns technically known as "tessellations," arrangements of closed shapes completely covering a plane without overlapping and without leaving any gaps. By any combination of reflection (reversal), rotation, or translation (sliding to the right or left), Escher discovered that any shape based on a square, hexagon, or triangle could become tessellated. Escher was especially interested in employing these patterns in the representation of organic forms (like birds, fish, or reptiles) or in depicting metamorphoses from one pattern into another (see his 1937 Metamorphosis series). These themes of tessellation, polyhedra (many-sided shapes), reflections, and perspective would continue to play center stage in Escher’s artwork for the next 30 years.
Equally central to Escher’s work is the influence of mathematics. Discussing this influence, Escher said: "For me it remains an open question whether [this work] pertains to the realm of mathematics or of art." Indeed, the presence of complex mathematical concepts in many of his pieces prompts the viewer to pose the same question. His tessellations were like elegant demonstrations of theorems that geometry and crystallography were just beginning to prove. Likewise, his interest in depicting two-dimensional infinity by shrinking a repeating pattern toward the edges and/or the center of a composition (Circle Limit (1959), Snakes (1969)) pays homage to findings in non-Euclidean geometry. Escher also explored in Mobius Strip II the brand-new field of topology, the study of the properties of shapes that remain the same under deformation. Escher also used concepts published by the mathematician Roger Penrose, including an impossible staircase and triangle, for many of his "impossible architecture" prints (e.g., Ascending and Descending). Using the same concepts from Penrose, he also created his impossible landscapes, such as Other World (1947), which played tricks with the artistic technique of perspective, putting many different, contradictory, and vanishing points in a single composition so that the eye must constantly revise its interpretation of direction.
No matter what theme Escher explored, all of this work — whether in woodcut, lithograph, drawing or mezzotint — shows the technical proficiency honed by years of training. His immense popularity comes in part from an unusual eye for the whimsical details that attract even the naive observer. Escher also stands out for his distinctive use of color, which is used only when necessary to distinguish elements of a pattern. Equally fascinating are the two main categories of his subjects: believable impossibilities and bizarre interpretation of reality. Among the most famous examples of the second type is Escher’s Hand with Reflecting Sphere, done in January 1935.
1950s and 1960s became a time of increasing fame and respect for Escher
among the general public as well as among mathematicians. In 1951, Escher
was the subject of articles in Time and Life magazines.
In 1954, he held a large one-man exhibition in Amsterdam during the International
Mathematical Conference and met the Canadian professor H.S.M. Coxeter, whose
descriptions of hyperbolic or non-Euclidean space were later incorporated
into Escher’s own depictions of infinity. In April 1955, Escher received
the Knighthood of the Order of Oranje Nassau, the medieval knighthood of
the King of the Netherlands. Expressing modest ambivalence about the honor,
Escher says in a letter to his son Arthur: "But what on earth can I do about
it? Luckily I can swear by God and all his angels that I never moved a finger
to get the decoration or licked the boots of any bigwigs."
In 1960, The Graphic Work of M.C. Escher was published, featuring reproductions of 76 prints and a commentary by the artist. Around this time, Escher also embarked for Canada and the US, where he lectured to crystallographic societies and visited his infant grandson. During the 1960s, Escher’s prints also gained cult status among lovers of the psychedelic, with the surrational or superrational motifs appearing on posters, album covers, and T-shirts.
In the mid-1960s, Escher’s health, always fragile, began to fail. He collapsed during a second trip to North America in 1964, and he had to undergo surgery in Toronto. For unclear reasons, Escher and his wife separated in 1968, and she moved to Switzerland. Escher completed his final graphic work, Snakes, in 1969. He lived to see the successful 1972 publication and translation of a grand retrospective of his life and work, The World of M.C. Escher, before dying during the spring of that year.
The popularity of Escher’s work continues to the present day, as several websites are dedicated exclusively to selling posters, T-shirts., and information about the artist. Arguably more significantly, new scientific implications of his work are also being found, as in Douglas Hofstader’s 1980 book, Goedel, Escher, Bach. In this work, Hofstader argues that the self-referential or "mirror" motifs in Escher’s art (e.g., in the Drawing Hands lithograph, where each hand seems to draw the other) are a visual symbol of the enigma of consciousness, which artificial intelligence attempts to solve. The mind constructs itself constructing itself, seemingly without a beginning point to the circle. In the same way as artificial intelligence partakes of both philosophy and computer science, Escher’s work itself occupies a gray area between fine art and mathematics, with fascinating results for both fields.
Maurits Escher was always referred to by his parents as Mauk. He was brought up by his father, George Escher, who was a civil engineer, and his second wife Sarah who was the daughter of a government minister. He lived with his four older brothers, Arnold, Johan, Berend, and Edmond. Maurits attended both elementary and secondary school in Arnhem between 1912 and 1918, where he failed to shine in many of his subjects, but exhibited an early interest in both music and carpentry.
People expressed the opinion that he possessed a mathematical brain but he never excelled in the subject at any stage during his schooling and treated the subject with some considerable unease. He wrote:
At high school in Arnhem, I was extremely poor at arithmetic and algebra because I had, and still have, great difficulty with the abstractions of numbers and letters. When, later, in stereometry [solid geometry], an appeal was made to my imagination, it went a bit better, but in school I never excelled in that subject. But our path through life can take strange turns.
Early reports detailed his methodological approach to life which was taken to be an unconscious reaction to his engineering family upbringing. As a child, Maurits always had an intensely creative side and an 'acute sense of wonder'. He often claimed to see shapes that he could relate to in the clouds (cf. Puddle),
Maurits, and his good friend Bas Kist both developed a deep interest in printing techniques as a consequence of receiving good reports from their respective art departments who had encouraged their student to experiment.
Family aspirations that Maurits would train as an architect were disappointed when he failed his final exams in history, constitutional organizations, political economies and book keeping, and as a result he never officially graduated. His family moved to Oosterbeek where a loophole in Dutch law allowed Maurits to enroll at the Higher Technical School in Delft (1918-1919) and thus allowed him to repeat some of the subjects he had failed. Unable and unwilling to catch up following poor health, Maurits decided to concentrate on his drawing and his woodcut techniques. He was influenced and initially trained by R N Roland Holst:
He strongly advised me to do some woodcuts, and I immediately followed his advice ... It is wonderful work but far more difficult than working with linoleum.
| ^ In
September 1920 Maurits moved to Haarlem in a final attempt to try follow
his father's wish that he study architecture and he enrolled at the School
for Architecture and Decorative Arts. A chance meeting with Samuel Jesserum
de Mesquita, a graphic arts teacher, proved a landmark event in Escher's
life and he became convinced that a graphic arts program would be better
suited to his skills. De Mesquita taught the eager Escher all he knew of
woodcut printing techniques, gave him space to experiment, and encouraged
him to experiment widely in order to develop his skills.
Escher was regularly heard to complain about his lack of natural drawing ability and as a result most of his pieces took a long time to complete, and required numerous attempts before he was completely happy. In his youth he concentrated on landscapes, many of which were drawn from unusual perspectives (e.g. the picture of Saint Peter's). He also made numerous sketches of plants and even insects, all of which regularly appear in his later work.
Traveling took up a large part of Escher's life from this point on. He made a trip with two friends to Florence in April 1922 and spent the whole time sketching and drinking. Escher then spent a further month traveling alone around Italy gathering material to use in his experimental woodcuts.
During his early drawing career Escher touched only briefly on the subject of 'filling the plane', signs of which had been visible from an early age. Many years later a lady:
... remembered the care with which this little boy [Escher] had selected the shape, quantity and size of his slices of cheese, so that, fitted one against the other, they would cover as exactly as possible the entire slice of bread. This particular trait never left him ...
His first work featuring regular division of the plane was named Eight Heads, and was completed in 1922.
Escher visited Spain in June 1922, making the voyage on a sea freighter, and there his interest in regular division was briefly revitalized. He traveled widely and visited many palaces and was inspired by a great number of both buildings and landscapes. One building which was to have an immense influence on his life was the Alhambra Palace in Grenada.
Escher was overwhelmed by the beauty of the 14th century Moorish palace and in particular, by the decorative majolica tilings which decorated many of the surfaces of the building. Unlike the Moors, Escher was both keen and permitted to use recognizable objects in his ad-hoc versions of the tilings. He made a number of attempts at using this style of artwork over the next couple of years but was unhappy about both the length of time this passion was taking (due to its trial and error nature) and the poor quality of his final work, and he left aside regular division for a number of years. We wrote that, in about 1924,:
... for the first time I printed on a cloth a single animal motif cut out of wood which repeats itself according to a certain system, thereby adhering to the principle that no blank spaces may occur. I needed at least three colors; with each in turn I rolled my stamping block in order to contrast one motif with its adjoining congruent repetitions. I exhibited this cloth together with my other work, but I did not have any success with it.
Following his return from Spain, Escher went to live in Italy. Again he traveled widely and in 1923, whilst staying in the town of Ravello, he met his future wife Jetta Umiker. They married on 12 June 1924 and made their home in Frascati, just outside Rome. They would have three children, George (born 23 June 1926 in Frascati), then Arthur (born 08 December 1928) and Jan (born 06 March 1938).
Escher with his family took frequent holidays around Italy during the next decade. Years of sketching Italian landscapes, usually with impossible perspectives, followed before the family were forced to leave Italy as a result of the Fascist political uprising which developed in Italy during the summer months of 1935. They moved to the mountain village of Chateau-d'Oex in Switzerland but Jetta missed Italy and the high Swiss prices forced Escher to sell more prints.
The family was unhappy at first in their new surroundings and, lacking inspiration for his work, Maurits and Jetta set out on a Mediterranean excursion. Escher managed to negotiate a deal with the Adria Shipping Company which gave free passage and meals for himself and also a one way ticket for Jetta. He made payment with prints which he completed using sketches made on the journey. The trip began on 26 April 1936, and during the next two months the pair made volumes of sketches from which to work from in the future. (e.g. an Alhambra sketch from 1936)
Escher's fascination with order and symmetry took over his life after this
Mediterranean journey in 1936 after he made his second visit to the Alhambra.
Escher remarked that it was:
...the richest source of inspiration I have ever tapped. Escher and his wife spent days on end working at the Alhambra Palace, where they sketched as much as they could, much to the amusement of the numerous tourists who visited each day. These sketches were to become a fundamental source for much of Escher's future work. After this trip Escher became obsessed with the concept of regular division of the plane. He wrote:
It remains an extremely absorbing activity, a real mania to which I have become addicted, and from which I sometimes find it hard to tear myself away. Escher felt that he could improve upon the work of the Moorish artists and used his sketches as a geometric grid from which to design his own characters to fill the plane. He experimented with many different motifs such as birds, weightlifters and lions, all of which appear in many of his early designs. All of his work during this time period relied heavily on his own imagination along with his Spanish sketches, and was immensely time consuming.
In October 1937 Escher showed some of his new work to his brother Berend, by then a professor of geology at Leiden University, when both were visiting their parents home in The Hague. Recognizing the connection between his brother's woodcuts and crystallography, Berend sent his brother a list of articles that he felt would be of assistance. This was Escher's first contact with mathematics.
Escher read Pólya's 1924 paper on plane symmetry groups. Although he did not understand the abstract concept of groups discussed in Pólya's paper he did understand the 17 plane symmetry groups described there. He subsequently taught himself the principles by which each of the 17 groups operated. Between 1937 and 1941 Escher worked on possible periodic tilings producing 43 colored drawings with a wide variety of symmetry types. He adopted a highly mathematical approach with a systematic study using notation which he invented himself. Escher also studied an article written by F. Haag in 1923 and he eventually challenged some of the views expressed in the literature following further research into the topic.
Near the end of 1937 the Escher family moved to Belgium which became their home until the 20 February 1941 when the invading German army forced them to flee to Baarn in Holland. World War II was a deeply emotional time for Escher and prevented him from concentrating on his work.
Over the years that followed Escher made numerous woodcuts utilizing each of the 17 symmetry groups. With practice his skills naturally improved and as a result he could design and complete each piece far quicker than in his earlier years. His art formed an integral part of family life, and Escher would work in his study between 8 am and 4 pm every day. New concepts could take months or even years to come to fruition before the finished work was discussed and explained to the family. One of his children wrote:
The end of the cycle, making the first print, gave father a mixture of joy and sadness. It was exciting and satisfying to lift the paper from the inked wood for the first time, to see the finished print, crisp and immaculate, gradually appearing around the edge of the paper as it was carefully raised. But father had always a feeling of disappointment, of not having been able to depict adequately his thoughts. After all his efforts, how far short of the originally so lucid and misleading simple idea did this result fall! Extensive research and investigation culminated in 1941 with his first notebook Regular Division of the plane with Asymmetric congruent Polygons. This notebook was extended and improved over the course of the following year, when the results obtained from extensive color based division investigations were included. These books were never meant for publication - only for background information to allow him to continue as a visionary artist.
The notebooks were evidence of the fact that Escher had become a research mathematician of the highest order, regardless of his personal feeling of mathematical insecurity. He had developed his own categorization system which covered all the possible combinations of shape, color and symmetrical properties. As such he had unknowingly studied areas of crystallography years in advance of any professional mathematician working in this field. He wrote:
A long time ago, I chanced upon this domain of regular division of the plane in one of my wanderings... However, on the other side I landed in a wilderness.... I came to the open gate of mathematics. Sometimes I think I have covered the whole area ... and then I suddenly discover a new path and experience fresh delights.
Escher was inundated with requests to give lectures all over the world. In a lecture in 1953 Escher said:
... I have often felt closer to people who work scientifically (though I certainly do not do so myself) than to my fellow artists. By around 1956 Escher's interests changed again taking regular division of the plane to the next level by representing infinity on a fixed 2-dimensional plane. Earlier in his career he had used the concept of a closed loop to try to express infinity as demonstrated in Horseman (of which there is a black-and-white and a colored version).
had put his designs on to a variety of three-dimensional objects such as
columns and spheres during the 1940s, again in an attempt to impart an endless
perspective to his work. He later tried working with the concept of similarities,
using identical motifs of diminishing size, arranged in a series of concentric
circles, but as with much of his work, he was unhappy about the final quality.
In 1958 Escher met Coxeter and they became lifelong friends. Escher came across an article written by Coxeter, and again whilst unable to understand the text, he was able to determine the rules regarding hyperbolic tessellations using only the diagrams in the paper. Escher paid thanks to Coxeter by sending him a copy of one of his new works Circle Limit I. Escher continued to develop and enhance this field and produced many more prints using both circles and squares as the frames for his works.
This style of artwork required enormous dedication because of the careful planning and trial sketches required, coupled with the necessary hand and carving skill, but was an enormous source of satisfaction to Escher. He wrote:
I discovered once again that the human hand is capable of executing small and yet completely controlled movements, on the condition that the eye sees sufficiently clearly what the hand is doing. In 1995 Coxeter published a paper which proved that Escher had achieved mathematical perfection in one of his etchings. Circle Limit III was created using only simple drawing instruments and Escher's great intuition, but Coxeter proved that:
... Escher got it absolutely right to the millimeter, absolutely to the millimeter .... Unfortunately he didn't live long enough to see my mathematical vindication.
This proof serves to highlight Escher's amazing natural ability of being able to combine both his artistic skills and the techniques that he learned from others, into mathematically perfect designs. (Circle limit IV (Heaven and Hell))
By 1958 Escher had achieved remarkable fame. He continued to give lectures and correspond with people who were eager to learn from him. He had given his first important exhibition of his works and had also been featured in Time magazine. Escher received numerous awards over his career including the Knighthood of the Oranje Nassau (1955) and was regularly commissioned to design art for dignitaries around the world.
In 1958 he published Regular Division of the Plane and in this work he says:
At first I had no idea at all of the possibility of systematically building up my figures. I did not know ... this was possible for someone untrained in mathematics, and especially as a result of my putting forward my own layman's theory, which forced me to think through the possibilities. Again in Regular Division of the Plane Escher writes:
In mathematical quarters, the regular division of the plane has been considered theoretically. ... Mathematicians have opened the gate leading to an extensive domain, but they have not entered this domain themselves. By their very nature they are more interested in the way in which the gate is opened than in the garden lying behind it.
Escher's work covered a variety of subjects throughout his life. His early love of portraits, Roman and Italian landscapes and of nature, eventually gave way to regular division of the plane. Many of his pieces were drawn from unusual perspectives thus creating enigmatic spatial effects. He was skilled in the art of a number of different printing techniques such as woodcuts, lithographs and mezzotints. Over 150 colorful and recognizable works testify to Escher's ingenuity and interest in regular division of the plane. He managed to capture the notion of hyperbolic space on a fixed 2-dimensional plane as well as translating the principles of regular division onto a number of 3-dimensional objects such as spheres, columns and cubes. A number of his prints combine both 2 and 3-dimensional images with startling effect as demonstrated for example in Reptiles.
He wrote :
When an element of plane division suggests to me the form of an animal, I immediately think of a volume. The "flat shape" irritates me - I feel as if I were shouting to my figures, "You are too fictitious for me; you just lie there static and frozen together; do something, come out of there and show me what you are capable of!" So I make them come out of the plane. But do they really do that? On the contrary, I am deliberately inconsistent, suggesting plasticity in the plane by means of light and shadow.
He was fascinated by topology, which only began to be studied during his lifetime, as illustrated by the Möbius strip. In his later years he learned much from the British mathematician Roger Penrose and used this knowledge to design many "impossible" etchings such as Waterfall or Up and down.
used pictures to tell a story in his Metamorphosis series of designs.
These designs brought together many of Escher's skills and show the transformation
from one distinct object to another, by means of a series of slight changes
to a regular pattern in the plane.
Metamorphosis 1 in particular, printed in 1933, yields an insight into the change of artistic style which occurred in Escher's life at this time. An Italian coastline is transformed through a series of convex polygons into a regular pattern in the plane until finally a distinct, colored, human motif emerges, signifying his change of perspective from landscape work to regular division of the plane.
Escher fell ill initially in 1964 whilst delivering a series of lectures in North America. As a result he was forced to cut down his schedule substantially, later devoting most of his time to correspondence with friends. In his last years are described as follows:
When Escher's view of the world turned inward he produced his best known puzzling prints, which, art aside, were truly intellectually playful, yet he was not. His life turned inward, he cut himself off and he had few friends. ... He died after a protracted illness...
His final graphic work, a woodcut, Snakes took six months to complete and was finally unveiled in July 1969. This exceptional etching heads off to infinity at both the center and the edges of the picture. Following further operations Escher moved to the Rosa Spier house in Laren and later died in hospital.
Reflection in a glass ball and Rind are a pair of unusual self-portraits.
–- Self-Portrait Through a Porthole
— Self-Portrait (1929 lithograph, 35x25cm; 360x270pix, 45kb) _ Escher first learned to make lithographs in 1929. This is his second endeavor in the medium. Escher made self-portraits throughout his career, experimenting with various printmaking techniques that included linoleum cut, woodcut, lithography, and mezzotint.
–- Waterfall (Oct. 1961; 1057x826pix, 167kb _ .ZOOM 1 to 1500x1178pix, 176kb _ .ZOOM 2 to 2818x2202pix, 1475kb)
–- An Other World (1947, 32x26cm; 1108x904pix, 164kb)
–- Eight Heads (screen filling, 24kb _ .ZOOM to 1098x1100pix, 145kb)
–- Belvedere (1958, 46x29cm; 850x534pix, 87kb _ .ZOOM to 1700x1068pix, 184kb)
–- Bond of Union (1956)
–- Circle Limit IV: Heaven and Hell
–- Day and Night (1938)
–- Eye (1946)
–- Fish (1942)
–- Hand Holding a Reflecting Globe
–- Hands Drawing Each Other (1948)
–- Three Worlds (1955; 840x574pix, 111kb)
–- Moebius Strip II (Red Ants) (1963) _ the picture is grayscale.
–- Print Gallery (1956, 32x32cm)
–- Puddle (1952)
–- Relativity (1953)
–- Reptiles (1943)
–- Sky and Water II (1938)
–- Sun and Moon (1948) _ actually: birds
–- Sun and Moon in color
–- Up and Down (1947)
— Castrovalva (Abruzzi) (1930)
— Still Life with Mirror (1934)
— Hell (1935)
— Diploma Tijdelijke Academie (1945)
— Ascending and Descending (1960)
— Lions' Court
— Alhambra pond
— 1936 sketch
— Fish design
— Horsemen II
— Circle limit I
–- Circle limit III (round 760x760pix, 184kb _ ZOOM to 1520x1520pix, 482kb)
— Metamorphosis I
— 85 images at NGA — 30 images at Ciudad de la Pintura
// Make Escherish images with the Escher Web Sketcher