Tuesday, January 10, 2006

M.C. Escher

M.C. EscherM.C. Escher’s visions of strange worlds, impossible objects, and incredible tesselations form an extraordinary bridge between art and mathematics.

Critics often revile Escher and try to dismiss him as a creator of “decorative patterns” and “visual tricks”; and of course, he can’t possibly be a great artist because he’s (ugh!) popular with the (gasp!) masses! His images have been reproduced on countless posters, mugs, T-shirts, et cetera, which you’ve undoubtedly seen in a college dorm somewhere. Many of his images have become cultural icons to the point of being clichés, which is unfortunate because that makes it difficult to see them with the fresh eyes they deserve.

If the purpose of art is to communicate, Escher does that admirably, and he has definite things to say. If the purpose of art is to affect our emotions, Escher does that as well. He forces us to confront the possibility that our comfortable confidence in the reality of our senses may not be well founded. He demonstrates that what we think is visual truth may be illusion, and things we think unrelated may in fact be unexpectedly connected.

His thought-provoking juxtapositions of visual elements, disorienting perspective, startling geometry, unexpected spatial relationships and obsessively recursive surface patterns can halt someone in their tracks when they first encounter his work. People can become captivated by Escher’s images to an extraordinary degree. (You can see my own fascination with him in this early page from my webcomic.)

Escher mastered several printmaking techniques: woodcuts, wood engravings, even the arcane and difficult art of mezzotint, but the majority of his works are created with stone lithography, also a very demanding process.

The Official M.C. Escher Website is actually well done and has a fairly extensive gallery of his work, arranged by periods of the artist’s life. It also includes a biography, links to other sites of interest and short video interviews with Escher.

The official site’s gallery images are a bit small; there are larger ones on unofficial sites like: The Oldest Escher Collection on the Web and World of Escher (which has a lot of commercial stuff for sale, but the prints in the gallery have good-sized enlargements).

Some additional sites of interest: an Illustrated essay; The Mathematical Art of M.C. Escher on the Mathacademy site, fan site Neal’s Escher Page (with a nice list of links), Escher for Real (attempts to make actual objects that duplicate, at least from one angle, some of Escher’s “impossible” objects) and Tesselations.org, a site that explains tesselations, highlights Escher’s tesselations and shows you how to create some yourself.

None of the web images of his prints can compare with the reproductions in good books. M.C. Escher : 29 Master prints is wonderfully large and the reproductions are excellent. The Magic of M. C. Escher (J. L. Locker) is much more extensive and wonderfully done (out of print, but still available), and M. C. Escher is a nice, inexpensive volume.

 

10 thoughts on “M.C. Escher

  1. jessica

    News Italy
    Unpublished Painting NESSIE Loch Ness and BLACK MAN date 1949 .- Artist M.C. ESCHER 1898-1972 NL.-

    youtube: NESSIE ESCHER
    internet: IRPINIANEWS ESCHER

  2. luana

    http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.aspx/1645086?UserKey=

    Nessie in Italian attic mystery
    Mystery drawing may have been done by master illusionist
    By neil macphail

    Published: 13/03/2010

    ARTISTIC CONUNDRUM: The 1949 painting entitled Loch Ness Monster and Black Man without a Face
    More Pictures

    Our Loch Ness Monster is famed the world over, and pops up in very strange circumstances from time to time.

    Now she has surfaced at the centre of an art mystery in Italy.

    This centres around a charcoal drawing dating from 1949, which is described as Loch Ness Monster and Black Man without a Face, and which could possibly have been drawn by famous Dutch artist, MC Escher.

    This story of the mystery painting starts in 2005 in Volturara, a small village in the Italian province of Avellino, where traffic police officer Raffaele De Feo lives.

    When clearing out his family’s attic, he found what he called “the strange picture”.

    Initially he did not take any notice of it, but later, in removing the frame, he sees an inscription on the back of the picture, signed by MC Escher, which reads: “With all my heart to a friendly remembrance.”

    Now some Italians are urging art experts to authenticate the work as being done by Maurits Cornelis Escher, nicknamed “Mauk”, and contacted the Press and Journal to spread the world that Nessie “lives” in Italy.

    Escher (1898-1972) was hailed by many as one of the world’s most famous graphic artists. His art is enjoyed by millions of people all over the world, as can be seen on the many web sites on the internet. And for several years he lived and travelled in Italy.

    He is most famous for his so-called impossible structures, such as Ascending and Descending, Relativity, his Transformation Prints, such as Metamorphosis I, Metamorphosis II and Metamorphosis III, Sky & Water I or Reptiles.
    Read more: http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.aspx/1645086?UserKey=#ixzz0i6QsgB2q

    http://www.eschernessie.it/

  3. luan

    T A T E M O D E R N
    Bankside London SE1 9TG
    Call+44(0)20 7887 8000
    Fax+44(0)20 7401 5052
    Visit http://www.tate.org.uk

    DOTM/Prop/ej-01
    02 May 2007
    De Feo Raffaele
    Sezione Polizia Stradale de Avellino
    83100 Via G.Palatucci 16
    Italy

    Dear DE Feo Raffaele

    Thank you for the letter and information that you sent Tate Modern, which have now been
    Discussed by the curatorial team at Tate Modern and have been passed to me for reply. While we
    Appreciate your thoughtful proposal, exhibitions and displays are planned far in advance. Our
    Calendar is now completely booked through 2009, and we are reluctant to commit to any new
    Projects until we are fuether along in planning for the shows that are currently being organised by
    Our own curatorial staff.

    I am sorry to be the bearer of such disappointing news, but on behalf of the team here, I should
    Like to wish you every success in realising your idea elsewhere.

    Thank you for thinking of Tate Modern.

    Yours sincerely,
    Aleanor Jones
    Director’s Office
    Tate Modern

    http://www.eschernessie.it/

  4. Pingback: M.C. Escher: Impossible Realities | CS5 Design

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