Lines and Colors art blog

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.


4 responses to “Eye Candy for Today: M.C. Escher lithograph: Reptiles

  1. Carla X Gladstone Avatar
    Carla X Gladstone

    This is one of my favourite Escher pieces also. Note that the reptile leaving the page comes out of a dark-coloured “tile” but the one returning to the page goes into the medium-coloured tile. I have often wondered if there is some meaning implied thereby.

    1. Thanks, Carla. Sounds like the kind of attention to detail and meaning that Escher is know for, so could be; who knows? It’s always fun to speculate.

  2. Wim Haak Avatar
    Wim Haak

    In dutch it’s just called “reptielen”, but I like your “rep-tiles”.

    1. Thanks, Wim. Good to know. Yes, it can be “rep-tiles” to me even if Escher didn’t intend it so.