Some early work by M.C. Escher

Some early work by M.C. Escher
Some early work by M.C. Escher

Many people are aware of the graphic work of Dutch printmaker M.C. Escher that bends logic and presents mind-boggling visions of impossible worlds and structures. Fewer have seen many of his earlier works, that are much more straightforward and “possible” (if sometimes fanciful).

Here are a few examples.

For more images and info, see my previous posts on M.C. Escher.

Eye Candy for Today: Whistler etching, Fumette

Fumette, etching whistler
Fumette, etching whistler (details)

Fumette, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, etching, roughly 6 x 4″ (16 x 11 cm)

Link is to zoomable version on Google Art Project, original of this version of the print is in the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery.

You can see other versions of the print in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago.

In this portrayal of his mistress Heloise — who was known as “Fumette” because of her temper — Whistler has brought his considerable etching skills to a study of value contrasts, darks against lights and lights against darks in her clothing and in the framing of her face by her dark hair.

I particularly love how loose and casual his hatching appears in the lower areas of the skirt.

Whistler created a number of etchings of Fumette, some of which you can also see on the site of the Freer Gallery.

Eye Candy for Today: Max Klinger’s At the Gate

At the Gate (Am Thor), Max Klinger; etching and engraving
At the Gate (Am Thor), Max Klinger; etching and engraving (details)

At the Gate (Am Thor), Max Klinger; etching and engraving; roughy 18 x 12″ (45 x 31 cm). Link is to the impression the collection of the National Gallery, DC, whih has both a downloadable and zoomable version of the image (and no longer requires an account to download high-res images). There is also a zoomable version on the Google Art Project.

Max Klinger was a German Symbolist artist active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Though he was also a painter, Klinger was known primarily for his graphics in the form of etchings, drypoint, aquatint and engraving — sometimes combining multiple techniques in a single plate, as he did here.

This print is from a series titled A Love, Opus X, which he dedicated to Arnold Böcklin, a Swiss Symbolist by whom he was greatly influenced — to the point of doing a beautiful etching version of Böcklin’s famous painting Isle of the Dead.

Oscar Droege

Oscar Droege, color woodblock prints
Oscar Droege, color woodblock prints

Color woodblock prints don’t get as much attention in Europe and the U.S. as they do in Japan, but there are adherents of the art who produce beautiful work.

Oscar Droege was a German printmaker and painter active in the early to mid 20th century. His prints are largely of landscapes, but also include ships, houses and other subjects.

His use of color is subtle, atmospheric and invites a contemplative appreciation of his work.

In contrast to many of the color woodblock print artists of 19th and 20th century Japan, a number of European and American artists working in the medium, including Droege, largely eschew the use of outline in favor of defining subjects directly as shapes of color.

[Via GurneyJourney]

Eye Candy for Today: M.C. Escher lithograph: Reptiles

M.C. Escher, Reptiles, lithograph
M.C. Escher, Reptiles, lithograph (details)

Reptiles, Maurits Cornelis Escher, lithograph, roughly 13 x 15 inches (33 × 38 cm)

Link is to an image sourced from this article on the website of WBUR radio, reviewing a 2018 Escher exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.

Here, we find the ingenious Dutch printmaker M.C. Escher indulging in a number of his favored themes: tessellated patterns, the relationship between the a two dimensional surface and three dimensional space, a shift between the graphic and the “real”, circular visual logic, geometric solids, and keenly observed still life subjects that may hold symbolic meaning.

This is one of my favorite Escher compositions; it plays with the very nature of illusionistic art — the representation of a three dimensional world on a two dimensional surface.

I see a potential play on words in the title, Reptiles. (Whether this translates into Dutch, or whether Escher spoke English, I don’t know.) The reptiles are represented as elements in a tessellation — as flat, interlocking patterns on the drawing surface. The repeated elements in a tessellated surface are called “tiles”. If you want to carry it further, “Rep” can be short for “repeated”. But then, I’m just projecting into Escher’s work, as its enigmatic nature makes it fun to do.

Also, I love the snort of smoke from the lizard on top of the dodecahedron.

For more, see my previous posts on M.C. Escher.

Bing image search vs. Google, Yahoo & Tin Eye

Bing image search interface

As you might imagine, in the course of writing Lines and Colors I do a fair bit of searching out art images on the web — whenever possible searching for the largest examples of images of artwork that I can find.

One of the ways I do this is to use the “image search” features of the major search engines. Unfortunately, Google Image Search, which used to be the standard, has been diminished in its usefulness, as Google, perhaps nervous about copyright issues, has gotten namby pamby about searching for large images and taken away the ability to search for images in extra large or custom, viewer chosen sizes.

I have of late switched the majority of my art image searching to another search engine.

Bing Image Search

OK, I hear you snickering (Bing, really? BING?). Yes, Bing, Microsoft’s seldom used (but actually decent) competitor to Google’s overwhelming dominance of the search arena.

While Google hamstrings its image search, Bing offers a full featured image search, that not only allows you to search for extra large images, but offers a few features Google’s version never did.

Unlike Google’s typically spare opening page, Bing Image Search is crowded with suggested images of pop stars, cute animals and a bunch of other pop culture garbage you’re sure to be fascinated by. (I think if you’re logged into a Microsoft account, it may remember your own recent searches.) The simple search field is at the top.

In the initial search term result (images above, with detail crop; I’ve searched for “Dutch landscape painting”), click on “Filter” to the right, and in the sub-navigation that drops down, click on “Image Size” at the left. You’ll have a choice for Small, Medium and Large, as with Google, but in addition you can choose “Extra Large”, or enter custom size parameters in the provided fields. I often search for 2000 x 2000 pixels. (The little icon in the right side of the search bar is for “search by image”.)

The filtered page will show large images with the size displayed over them. If you click on the hamburger menu at the upper right, you’ll have the option to display information from the page under the images.

Clicking on an image gives a close up. In the column to the right, the first two entries are ads, the third is the link to the originating age for the image, Under that are buttons for “Visit site”, “Pages” and Image sizes”, and below that similar images (related, but not the images in question) and related searches.

Clicking “Pages” produces a list of pages that display version of that image.

Clicking “Image sizes” organizes the image sources by the size of the image (largest is not always best as some may be watermarked or less accessible than others, you can also have multiple choices for the same size image).

The little icon in the search field at the top of the page (that I assume is supposed to be a camera) opens a Visual Search box. It offers you the option to upload an image, or enter a link to one, and search for other, hopefully larger, versions of that same image. It also allows you to search for a page with additional information about an image you’re trying to identify.

Google Image Search

Google image search interface

The Google Image Search initial returns on a search is similar to Bing’s. A link for “Tools” on the right drops down a sub-navigation from which you can choose “Image Size” on the left, with choices only for Small, Medium and Large as well as “All”.

The filtered returns show page location under them, image size is not available.

Google image search interface

Clicking on an image shows a preview in a right hand column, with the page name and link below it. In this case, the size is available by rollover. Under that are “Related images” (similar but not copies of the same image), and “Related Searches”.

Google image search interface

The Camera icon in the search bar is for visual image search. Upload or paste the URL of an image (the image itself, not a page containing an image), and returns an array of copies of the image with the source page underneath.

If you right click (or Control-click on Mac) on an image in Google Chrome, you will see a choice to “Search Googe for image”. There are plugins that provide the same functionality for other browsers.

Yahoo Image Search

Yahoo Image Search interface

Yahoo Image Search exists. Why, I’m not sure.

The initial search term results look much like Bing or Google, but there is no page or size information. Clicking on “Advanced” at right provides filters for color, size and image type. Sizes are S,M,L. (The others let you search by color as well, from the sub-menus.)

Clicking on an image returns a detail panel with the page and size info and the option to “Visit page” or View image”. There is no visual image search that I can find.

Tin Eye reverse Image Search

Tin Eye reverse Image Search interface

Tin Eye is a venerable visual image search engine that provided that service before the big guys, um… borrowed the idea. I mention it primarily out of respect for that. It still does a good job in its initial mission, but there is no provision for image size choices. Tin Eye offers plugins to put their reverse image search in browser menus. Tin Eye offers a service to track your own images and notify you if it finds they’re being used elsewhere, but the service is expensive, probably mostly of use to corporate intellectual property holders.

Tip for searching by site

All three of the above major search engines allow you to search for images (or other content) from a particular site. In the regular search bar, enter the search terms, followed by a space and then the word site, a colon (no space) and the URL of the site. For example: “dutch landscape paintings”. This will return a page with results for that topic only from the Sothebys auction site.

Other sources for high res art images

General search engines are just one avenue for searching out art images on the web. Another, often more fruitful way to find large art images is to do local searches on the sites of major museums, or on art image agglomeration sites, such as the Google Art Project, Wikimedia Commons of the Art Renewal Center. These should be the topic of another post.

Happy image searching!

(Oh yes, and Time Sink Warning!)