M. C. Escher

M. C. Escher

Overview
Maurits Cornelis Escher (17 June 1898 – 27 March 1972), usually referred to as M. C. Escher (ˈɛʃər, ˈmʌurɪts kɔrˈneːlɪs ˈɛʃər), was a Dutch
Dutch people
The Dutch people are an ethnic group native to the Netherlands. They share a common culture and speak the Dutch language. Dutch people and their descendants are found in migrant communities worldwide, notably in Suriname, Chile, Brazil, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and the United...

 graphic artist
Graphic arts
A type of fine art, graphic art covers a broad range of art forms. Graphic art is typically two-dimensional and includes calligraphy, photography, drawing, painting, printmaking, lithography, typography, serigraphy , and bindery. Graphic art also consists of drawn plans and layouts for interior...

. He is known for his often mathematically
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

 inspired woodcut
Woodcut
Woodcut—occasionally known as xylography—is a relief printing artistic technique in printmaking in which an image is carved into the surface of a block of wood, with the printing parts remaining level with the surface while the non-printing parts are removed, typically with gouges...

s, lithographs
Lithography
Lithography is a method for printing using a stone or a metal plate with a completely smooth surface...

, and mezzotint
Mezzotint
Mezzotint is a printmaking process of the intaglio family, technically a drypoint method. It was the first tonal method to be used, enabling half-tones to be produced without using line- or dot-based techniques like hatching, cross-hatching or stipple...

s. These feature impossible constructions
Impossible object
An impossible object is a type of optical illusion consisting of a two-dimensional figure which is instantly and subconsciously interpreted by the visual system as representing a projection of a three-dimensional object although it is not actually possible for such an object to exist An impossible...

, explorations of infinity
Infinity
Infinity is a concept in many fields, most predominantly mathematics and physics, that refers to a quantity without bound or end. People have developed various ideas throughout history about the nature of infinity...

, architecture
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

, and tessellation
Tessellation
A tessellation or tiling of the plane is a pattern of plane figures that fills the plane with no overlaps and no gaps. One may also speak of tessellations of parts of the plane or of other surfaces. Generalizations to higher dimensions are also possible. Tessellations frequently appeared in the art...

s.

Maurits Cornelis, nicknamed "Mauk", was born in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

, in a house that forms part of the Princessehof Ceramics Museum
Princessehof Ceramics Museum
Princessehof Ceramics Museum is a city museum of ceramics in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands. The museum's name comes from one of two buildings in which it is housed: a small palace built in 1693 and later occupied by Marie Louise, dowager Princess of Orange...

 today.
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Quotations

We live in a beautiful and orderly world, not in a chaos without norms, as we sometimes seem to.

As quoted in "Up and down Stairways : Escher, Bakhtin, and Joseph Andrews" by Astrid Masetti Lobo Costa in Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, Vol. 31, No. 3, Restoration and Eighteenth Century (Summer 1991), pp. 553-568

The result of the struggle between the thought and the ability to express it, between dream and reality, is seldom more than a compromise or an approximation. Thus there is little chance that we will succeed in getting through to a large audience, and on the whole we are quite satisfied if we are understood and appreciated by a small number of sensitive, receptive people.

When someone forgets himself, this by no means makes him altruistic; when a thinking person forgets himself, he immediately also forgets his fellowman, he loses himself and his humanity by becoming engrossed in his subject. Thus he is in a sense more contemplative than a feeling person.

It's pleasing to realize that quite a few people enjoy this sort of playfulness and that they are not afraid to look at the relative nature of rock-hard reality.

Encyclopedia
Maurits Cornelis Escher (17 June 1898 – 27 March 1972), usually referred to as M. C. Escher (ˈɛʃər, ˈmʌurɪts kɔrˈneːlɪs ˈɛʃər), was a Dutch
Dutch people
The Dutch people are an ethnic group native to the Netherlands. They share a common culture and speak the Dutch language. Dutch people and their descendants are found in migrant communities worldwide, notably in Suriname, Chile, Brazil, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and the United...

 graphic artist
Graphic arts
A type of fine art, graphic art covers a broad range of art forms. Graphic art is typically two-dimensional and includes calligraphy, photography, drawing, painting, printmaking, lithography, typography, serigraphy , and bindery. Graphic art also consists of drawn plans and layouts for interior...

. He is known for his often mathematically
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

 inspired woodcut
Woodcut
Woodcut—occasionally known as xylography—is a relief printing artistic technique in printmaking in which an image is carved into the surface of a block of wood, with the printing parts remaining level with the surface while the non-printing parts are removed, typically with gouges...

s, lithographs
Lithography
Lithography is a method for printing using a stone or a metal plate with a completely smooth surface...

, and mezzotint
Mezzotint
Mezzotint is a printmaking process of the intaglio family, technically a drypoint method. It was the first tonal method to be used, enabling half-tones to be produced without using line- or dot-based techniques like hatching, cross-hatching or stipple...

s. These feature impossible constructions
Impossible object
An impossible object is a type of optical illusion consisting of a two-dimensional figure which is instantly and subconsciously interpreted by the visual system as representing a projection of a three-dimensional object although it is not actually possible for such an object to exist An impossible...

, explorations of infinity
Infinity
Infinity is a concept in many fields, most predominantly mathematics and physics, that refers to a quantity without bound or end. People have developed various ideas throughout history about the nature of infinity...

, architecture
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

, and tessellation
Tessellation
A tessellation or tiling of the plane is a pattern of plane figures that fills the plane with no overlaps and no gaps. One may also speak of tessellations of parts of the plane or of other surfaces. Generalizations to higher dimensions are also possible. Tessellations frequently appeared in the art...

s.

Early life


Maurits Cornelis, nicknamed "Mauk", was born in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

, in a house that forms part of the Princessehof Ceramics Museum
Princessehof Ceramics Museum
Princessehof Ceramics Museum is a city museum of ceramics in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands. The museum's name comes from one of two buildings in which it is housed: a small palace built in 1693 and later occupied by Marie Louise, dowager Princess of Orange...

 today. He was the youngest son of civil engineer
Civil engineer
A civil engineer is a person who practices civil engineering; the application of planning, designing, constructing, maintaining, and operating infrastructures while protecting the public and environmental health, as well as improving existing infrastructures that have been neglected.Originally, a...

 George Arnold Escher
George Arnold Escher
George Arnold Escher was a Dutch civil engineer and a foreign advisor to the Japanese government during the Meiji period.He was the father of the graphic artist M. C...

 and his second wife, Sara Gleichman. In 1903, the family moved to Arnhem
Arnhem
Arnhem is a city and municipality, situated in the eastern part of the Netherlands. It is the capital of the province of Gelderland and located near the river Nederrijn as well as near the St. Jansbeek, which was the source of the city's development. Arnhem has 146,095 residents as one of the...

, where he attended primary school
Primary education
A primary school is an institution in which children receive the first stage of compulsory education known as primary or elementary education. Primary school is the preferred term in the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth Nations, and in most publications of the United Nations Educational,...

 and secondary school
Secondary education
Secondary education is the stage of education following primary education. Secondary education includes the final stage of compulsory education and in many countries it is entirely compulsory. The next stage of education is usually college or university...

 until 1918.

He was a sickly child, and was placed in a special school at the age of seven and failed the second grade. Though he excelled at drawing, his grades were generally poor. He also took carpentry
Carpentry
A carpenter is a skilled craftsperson who works with timber to construct, install and maintain buildings, furniture, and other objects. The work, known as carpentry, may involve manual labor and work outdoors....

 and piano lessons until he was thirteen years old. In 1919, Escher attended the Haarlem
Haarlem
Haarlem is a municipality and a city in the Netherlands. It is the capital of the province of North Holland, the northern half of Holland, which at one time was the most powerful of the seven provinces of the Dutch Republic...

 School of Architecture and Decorative Arts
. He briefly studied architecture
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

, but he failed a number of subjects (partly due to a persistent skin infection) and switched to decorative arts. Here he studied under Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita
Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita
Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita was a graphic artist active in the years before the Second World War. His pupils included the now renowned Mauritis Cornelis Escher . In the postwar years, de Mesquita was largely forgotten...

, with whom he would remain friends for years. In 1922 Escher left the school, having gained experience in drawing and making woodcut
Woodcut
Woodcut—occasionally known as xylography—is a relief printing artistic technique in printmaking in which an image is carved into the surface of a block of wood, with the printing parts remaining level with the surface while the non-printing parts are removed, typically with gouges...

s.

Later life


In 1922, an important year of his life, Escher traveled through Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 (Florence
Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

, San Gimignano
San Gimignano
San Gimignano is a small walled medieval hill town in the province of Siena, Tuscany, north-central Italy. It is mainly famous for its medieval architecture, especially its towers, which may be seen from several kilometres outside the town....

, Volterra
Volterra
Volterra, known to the ancient Etruscans as Velathri, to the Romans as Volaterrae, is a town and comune in the Tuscany region of Italy.-History:...

, Siena
Siena
Siena is a city in Tuscany, Italy. It is the capital of the province of Siena.The historic centre of Siena has been declared by UNESCO a World Heritage Site. It is one of the nation's most visited tourist attractions, with over 163,000 international arrivals in 2008...

, Ravello
Ravello
Ravello is a town and comune situated above the Amalfi Coast in the province of Salerno, Campania, southern Italy, with has approximately 2,500 inhabitants. It is a popular tourist destination.-History:...

) and Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 (Madrid
Madrid
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

, Toledo
Toledo, Spain
Toledo's Alcázar became renowned in the 19th and 20th centuries as a military academy. At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 its garrison was famously besieged by Republican forces.-Economy:...

, Granada
Granada
Granada is a city and the capital of the province of Granada, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. Granada is located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, at the confluence of three rivers, the Beiro, the Darro and the Genil. It sits at an elevation of 738 metres above sea...

). He was impressed by the Italian countryside and by the Alhambra
Alhambra
The Alhambra , the complete form of which was Calat Alhambra , is a palace and fortress complex located in the Granada, Andalusia, Spain...

, a fourteenth-century Moorish
Moorish architecture
Moorish architecture is the western term used to describe the articulated Berber-Islamic architecture of North Africa and Al-Andalus.-Characteristic elements:...

 castle in Granada, Spain. He came back to Italy regularly in the following years. In Italy he met Jetta Umiker, whom he married in 1924. The young couple settled down in Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 and stayed there until 1935, when the political climate under Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

 became unbearable. Their son, Giorgio Arnaldo Escher, named after his grandfather, was born in Rome. The family next moved to Château-d'Œx
Château-d'Œx
Château-d'Œx is a municipality in the canton of Vaud in Switzerland. It is in the district of Riviera-Pays-d'Enhaut.-Prehistoric settlements:...

, Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

, where they remained for two years.

Escher, who had been very fond of and inspired by the landscapes in Italy, was decidedly unhappy in Switzerland, so in 1937, the family moved again, to Ukkel
Uccle
Uccle or Ukkel is one of the nineteen municipalities located in the Brussels-Capital Region of Belgium.Uccle is known for its well-to-do areas, its green spots and its high rental rates.-History:...

, a small town near Brussels
Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

, Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

. World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 forced them to move in January 1941, this time to Baarn
Baarn
Baarn is a municipality and a town in the Netherlands, in the province of Utrecht.-The municipality Baarn :The municipality of Baarn consists of the following towns: Baarn, Eembrugge, Lage Vuursche.- The town Baarn :...

, the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

, where Escher lived until 1970. Most of Escher's better-known pictures date from this period. The sometimes cloudy, cold, wet weather of the Netherlands allowed him to focus intently on his works, and only during 1962, when he underwent surgery, was there a time when no new images were created.

Escher moved to the Rosa Spier house in Laren
Laren
is a municipality and a town in the Netherlands, in the province of North Holland. Located in the region called 't Gooi, it is the oldest town in that area. It is one of the richest towns in the Netherlands, along with its neighbour Blaricum...

 in 1970, a retirement home for artists where he had his own studio. He died at the home on 27 March 1972, at age 73.

Works


Escher's first print of an impossible reality was Still Life and Street
Still Life and Street
Still Life and Street is a woodcut print by the Dutch artist M. C. Escher which was first printed in March, 1937. It was his first print of an impossible reality. In this artwork we have two quite distinctly recognizable realities bound together in a natural, and yet at the same time a completely...

, 1937. His artistic expression was created from images in his mind, rather than directly from observations and travels to other countries. Well known examples of his work also include Drawing Hands, a work in which two hands are shown, each drawing the other; Sky and Water, in which light plays on shadow to morph
Morphing
Morphing is a special effect in motion pictures and animations that changes one image into another through a seamless transition. Most often it is used to depict one person turning into another through technological means or as part of a fantasy or surreal sequence. Traditionally such a depiction...

 the water background behind fish figures into bird figures on a sky background; and Ascending and Descending
Ascending and Descending
Ascending and Descending is a lithograph print by the Dutch artist M. C. Escher which was first printed in March 1960.The original print measures 14" x 11 1/4”. The lithograph depicts a large building roofed by a never-ending staircase. Two lines of identically dressed men appear on the staircase,...

, in which lines of people ascend and descend stairs in an infinite loop, on a construction which is impossible to build and possible to draw only by taking advantage of quirks of perception
Multistable perception
Multistable perceptual phenomena are a form of perceptual phenomena in which there are unpredictable sequences of spontaneous subjective changes...

 and perspective
Perspective (visual)
Perspective, in context of vision and visual perception, is the way in which objects appear to the eye based on their spatial attributes; or their dimensions and the position of the eye relative to the objects...

.

He worked primarily in the media of lithographs and woodcuts, though the few mezzotint
Mezzotint
Mezzotint is a printmaking process of the intaglio family, technically a drypoint method. It was the first tonal method to be used, enabling half-tones to be produced without using line- or dot-based techniques like hatching, cross-hatching or stipple...

s he made are considered to be masterpieces of the technique. In his graphic art, he portrayed mathematical relationships among shapes, figures and space. Additionally, he explored interlocking figures using black and white to enhance different dimensions. Integrated into his prints were mirror images of cones, spheres, cubes, rings and spirals.

In addition to sketching landscape and nature in his early years, he also sketched insects, which frequently appeared in his later work. His first artistic work, completed in 1922, featured eight human heads divided in different planes. Later around 1924, he lost interest in "regular division" of planes, and turned to sketching landscapes in Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 with irregular perspectives that are impossible in natural form.
Although Escher did not have mathematical training—his understanding of mathematics was largely visual and intuitive—Escher's work had a strong mathematical component, and more than a few of the worlds which he drew are built around impossible objects such as the Necker cube
Necker cube
The Necker Cube is an optical illusion first published as a rhomboid in 1832 by Swiss crystallographer Louis Albert Necker.-Ambiguity:The Necker Cube is an ambiguous line drawing....

 and the Penrose triangle
Penrose triangle
The Penrose triangle, also known as the Penrose tribar, is an impossible object. It was first created by the Swedish artist Oscar Reutersvärd in 1934. The mathematician Roger Penrose independently devised and popularised it in the 1950s, describing it as "impossibility in its purest form". It is...

. Many of Escher's works employed repeated tilings called tessellation
Tessellation
A tessellation or tiling of the plane is a pattern of plane figures that fills the plane with no overlaps and no gaps. One may also speak of tessellations of parts of the plane or of other surfaces. Generalizations to higher dimensions are also possible. Tessellations frequently appeared in the art...

s. Escher's artwork is especially well liked by mathematician
Mathematician
A mathematician is a person whose primary area of study is the field of mathematics. Mathematicians are concerned with quantity, structure, space, and change....

s and scientist
Scientist
A scientist in a broad sense is one engaging in a systematic activity to acquire knowledge. In a more restricted sense, a scientist is an individual who uses the scientific method. The person may be an expert in one or more areas of science. This article focuses on the more restricted use of the word...

s, who enjoy his use of polyhedra
Polyhedron
In elementary geometry a polyhedron is a geometric solid in three dimensions with flat faces and straight edges...

 and geometric
Geometry
Geometry arose as the field of knowledge dealing with spatial relationships. Geometry was one of the two fields of pre-modern mathematics, the other being the study of numbers ....

 distortions. For example, in Gravity
Gravitation (M. C. Escher)
Gravitation is a mixed media work by the Dutch artist M. C. Escher which was completed in June, 1952. It was first printed as a black-and-white lithograph and then coloured by hand in watercolour....

, multi-colored turtles poke their heads out of a stellated
Stellation
Stellation is a process of constructing new polygons , new polyhedra in three dimensions, or, in general, new polytopes in n dimensions. The process consists of extending elements such as edges or face planes, usually in a symmetrical way, until they meet each other again...

 dodecahedron.

The mathematical influence in his work emerged around 1936, when he was journeying the Mediterranean with the Adria Shipping Company. Specifically, he became interested in order and symmetry
Symmetry
Symmetry generally conveys two primary meanings. The first is an imprecise sense of harmonious or aesthetically pleasing proportionality and balance; such that it reflects beauty or perfection...

. Escher described his journey through the Mediterranean as "the richest source of inspiration I have ever tapped."

After his journey to the Alhambra
Alhambra
The Alhambra , the complete form of which was Calat Alhambra , is a palace and fortress complex located in the Granada, Andalusia, Spain...

, Escher tried to improve upon the art works of the Moors
Moors
The description Moors has referred to several historic and modern populations of the Maghreb region who are predominately of Berber and Arab descent. They came to conquer and rule the Iberian Peninsula for nearly 800 years. At that time they were Muslim, although earlier the people had followed...

 using geometric grids as the basis for his sketches, which he then overlaid with additional designs, mainly animals such as birds and lions.

His first study of mathematics, which would later lead to its incorporation into his art works, began with George Pólya
George Pólya
George Pólya was a Hungarian mathematician. He was a professor of mathematics from 1914 to 1940 at ETH Zürich and from 1940 to 1953 at Stanford University. He made fundamental contributions to combinatorics, number theory, numerical analysis and probability theory...

's academic paper on plane symmetry group
Symmetry group
The symmetry group of an object is the group of all isometries under which it is invariant with composition as the operation...

s sent to him by his brother Berend
Berend George Escher
Berend George Escher was a Dutch geologist.Escher had a broad interest, but his research was mainly on crystallography, mineralogy and volcanology. He was a pioneer in experimental geology. He was a half-brother of the artist M.C. Escher, and had some influence on his work due to his knowledge of...

. This paper inspired him to learn the concept of the 17 wallpaper group
Wallpaper group
A wallpaper group is a mathematical classification of a two-dimensional repetitive pattern, based on the symmetries in the pattern. Such patterns occur frequently in architecture and decorative art...

s (plane symmetry groups). Utilizing this mathematical concept, Escher created periodic tilings with 43 colored drawings of different types of symmetry. From this point on he developed a mathematical approach to expressions of symmetry in his art works. Starting in 1937, he created woodcuts using the concept of the 17 plane symmetry groups.

In 1941, Escher summarized his findings in a notebook, which he labeled Regelmatige vlakverdeling in asymmetrische congruente veelhoeken ("Regular division of the plane with asymmetric congruent polygons"). His intention in writing this was to aid himself in integrating mathematics into art. Escher is considered a research mathematician of his time because of his documentation with this paper. In it, he studied color based division, and developed a system of categorizing combinations of shape, color and symmetrical properties.

Around 1956, Escher explored the concept of representing infinity on a two-dimensional plane. Discussions with Canadian
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 mathematician H.S.M. Coxeter
Harold Scott MacDonald Coxeter
Harold Scott MacDonald "Donald" Coxeter, was a British-born Canadian geometer. Coxeter is regarded as one of the great geometers of the 20th century. He was born in London but spent most of his life in Canada....

 inspired Escher's interest in hyperbolic tessellations, which are regular tilings of the hyperbolic plane. Escher's wood engravings Circle Limit I–IV demonstrate this concept. In 1995, Coxeter published his finding that these works were extraordinarily accurate: "Escher got it absolutely right to the millimeter."

His works brought him fame: he was awarded the Knighthood of the Order of Orange Nassau in 1955. Subsequently he regularly designed art for dignitaries around the world. An asteroid, 4444 Escher
4444 Escher
4444 Escher is a main-belt asteroid discovered on September 16, 1985 by H. U. Nørgaard-Nielsen, Leif Hansen and Per Rex Christensen at the European Southern Observatory.It was named after the artist M. C. Escher.- External links :*...

, was named in his honour in 1985.

In 1958, he published a book entitled Regular Division of the Plane
Regular Division of the Plane
Regular Division of the Plane is a series of drawings by the Dutch artist M. C. Escher which began in 1936. These images are based on the principle of tessellation, irregular shapes or combinations of shapes that interlock completely to cover a surface or plane.The inspiration for these works began...

, with reproductions of a series of woodcuts based on tessellations of the plane, in which he described the systematic buildup of mathematical designs in his artworks. He emphasized, "Mathematicians have opened the gate leading to an extensive domain."

Overall, his early love of Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 and Italian landscapes and of nature led to his interest in the concept of regular division of a plane, which he applied in over 150 colored works. Other mathematical principles evidenced in his works include the superposition of a hyperbolic plane on a fixed 2-dimensional plane, and the incorporation of three-dimensional objects such as spheres, columns and cubes into his works. For example, in a print called "Reptiles
Reptiles (M. C. Escher)
Reptiles is a lithograph print by the Dutch artist M. C. Escher which was first printed in March, 1943.It depicts a desk on which is a drawing of a tessellated pattern of reptiles. The reptiles come to life and crawl around the desk and over the objects on it to eventually re-enter the drawing...

", he combined two and three-dimensional images. In one of his papers, Escher emphasized the importance of dimensionality and described himself as "irritated" by flat shapes: "I make them come out of the plane."
Escher also studied the mathematical concepts of topology
Topology
Topology is a major area of mathematics concerned with properties that are preserved under continuous deformations of objects, such as deformations that involve stretching, but no tearing or gluing...

. He learned additional concepts in mathematics from the British mathematician Roger Penrose
Roger Penrose
Sir Roger Penrose OM FRS is an English mathematical physicist and Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford and Emeritus Fellow of Wadham College...

. From this knowledge he created Waterfall and Up and Down, featuring irregular perspectives similar to the concept of the Möbius strip
Möbius strip
The Möbius strip or Möbius band is a surface with only one side and only one boundary component. The Möbius strip has the mathematical property of being non-orientable. It can be realized as a ruled surface...

.

Escher printed Metamorphosis I
Metamorphosis I
Metamorphosis I is a woodcut print by the Dutch artist M. C. Escher which was first printed in May, 1937. This piece measures and is printed on two sheets....

in 1937, which was a beginning part of a series of designs that told a story through the use of pictures. These works demonstrated a culmination of Escher's skills to incorporate mathematics into art. In Metamorphosis I, he transformed convex polygon
Convex polygon
In geometry, a polygon can be either convex or concave .- Convex polygons :A convex polygon is a simple polygon whose interior is a convex set...

s into regular patterns in a plane to form a human motif. This effect symbolizes his change of interest from landscape and nature to regular division of a plane.

One of his most notable works is the piece Metamorphosis III
Metamorphosis III
Metamorphosis III is a woodcut print by the Dutch artist M. C. Escher which was created by between 1967 and 1968. Measuring 19 cm × 680 cm , this is Escher’s largest print and most likely the largest print ever made. It was printed on thirty-three blocks on six combined sheets and mounted...

, which is wide enough to cover all the walls in a room, and then loop back onto itself.

After 1953, Escher became a lecturer at many organizations. A planned series of lectures in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 in 1962 was cancelled due to an illness, but the illustrations and text for the lectures, written out in full by Escher, were later published as part of the book Escher on Escher. In July 1969 he finished his last work, a woodcut called Snakes, in which snakes wind through a pattern of linked rings which fade to infinity toward both the center and the edge of a circle.

Legacy


The special way of thinking and the rich graphic work of M.C. Escher has had a continuous influence in science and art, as well as being referenced in popular culture. Ownership of the Escher intellectual property and of his unique art works have been separated from each other.

In 1969, Escher's business advisor, Jan W. Vermeulen, author of a biography in Dutch on the artist, established the M.C. Escher Stichting (M.C. Escher Foundation), and transferred into this entity virtually all of Escher's unique work as well as hundreds of his original prints. These works were lent by the Foundation to the Hague Museum. Upon Escher's death, his three sons dissolved the Foundation, and they became partners in the ownership of the art works. In 1980, this holding was sold to an American art dealer and the Hague Museum. The Museum obtained all of the documentation and the smaller portion of the art works.

The copyrights remained the possession of the three sons – who later sold them to Cordon Art, a Dutch company. Control of the copyrights was subsequently transferred to The M.C. Escher Company B.V. of Baarn, Netherlands, which licenses use of the copyrights on all of Escher's art and on his spoken and written text, and also controls the trademarks. Filing of the trademark "M.C. Escher" in the United States was opposed, but the Dutch company prevailed in the courts on the grounds that an artist or his heirs have a right to trademark his name.

A related entity, the M.C. Escher Foundation of Baarn, promotes Escher's work by organizing exhibitions, publishing books and producing films about his life and work.

The primary institutional collections of original works by M.C. Escher are the Escher Museum, a subsidiary of the Haags Gemeentemuseum in The Hague; the National Gallery of Art
National Gallery of Art
The National Gallery of Art and its Sculpture Garden is a national art museum, located on the National Mall between 3rd and 9th Streets at Constitution Avenue NW, in Washington, DC...

 (Washington, DC); the National Gallery of Canada
National Gallery of Canada
The National Gallery of Canada , located in the capital city Ottawa, Ontario, is one of Canada's premier art galleries.The Gallery is now housed in a glass and granite building on Sussex Drive with a notable view of the Canadian Parliament buildings on Parliament Hill. The acclaimed structure was...

 (Ottawa); the Israel Museum
Israel Museum
The Israel Museum, Jerusalem was founded in 1965 as Israel's national museum. It is situated on a hill in the Givat Ram neighborhood of Jerusalem, near the Bible Lands Museum, the Knesset, the Israeli Supreme Court, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem....

 (Jerusalem); Huis ten Bosch
Huis Ten Bosch (theme park)
is a theme park in Nagasaki Prefecture that recreates the Netherlands by displaying real size copies of old Dutch buildings. The name Huis Ten Bosch literally translates into English as "House in the Forest"...

 (Nagasaki, Japan); and the Boston Public Library
Boston Public Library
The Boston Public Library is a municipal public library system in Boston, Massachusetts, United States. It was the first publicly supported municipal library in the United States, the first large library open to the public in the United States, and the first public library to allow people to...

.

Gödel, Escher, Bach
Gödel, Escher, Bach
Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid is a book by Douglas Hofstadter, described by his publishing company as "a metaphorical fugue on minds and machines in the spirit of Lewis Carroll"....

by Douglas Hofstadter
Douglas Hofstadter
Douglas Richard Hofstadter is an American academic whose research focuses on consciousness, analogy-making, artistic creation, literary translation, and discovery in mathematics and physics...

, published in 1979, discusses the ideas of self-reference and strange loop
Strange loop
A strange loop arises when, by moving up or down through a hierarchical system, one finds oneself back where one started.Strange loops may involve self-reference and paradox...

s, drawing on a wide range of artistic and scientific work, including the art of M. C. Escher and the music of J. S. Bach, to illustrate ideas behind Gödel's incompleteness theorems
Gödel's incompleteness theorems
Gödel's incompleteness theorems are two theorems of mathematical logic that establish inherent limitations of all but the most trivial axiomatic systems capable of doing arithmetic. The theorems, proven by Kurt Gödel in 1931, are important both in mathematical logic and in the philosophy of...

.

Further reading


  • M.C. Escher, The Graphic Work of M.C. Escher, Ballantine, 1971. Includes Escher's own commentary.
  • M.C. Escher, The Fantastic World of M.C. Escher, Video collection of examples of the development of his art, and interviews, Director, Michele Emmer.
  • Locher, J.L. (2000). The Magic of M. C. Escher. Harry N. Abrams, Inc. ISBN 0-8109-6720-0.
  • Ernst, Bruno; Escher, M.C. (1995). The Magic Mirror of M.C. Escher (Taschen Series). TASCHEN America Llc. ISBN 1-886155-00-3 Escher's art with commentary by Ernst on Escher's life and art, including several pages on his use of polyhedra.
  • Abrams (1995). The M.C. Escher Sticker Book. Harry N. Abrams. ISBN 0-8109-2638-5 .
  • "Escher, M. C." The World Book Encyclopedia. 10th ed. 2001.
  • O'Connor, J. J. Escher. 01 2000. University of St Andrews, Scotland. 17 June 2005.
  • Schattschneider, Doris and Walker, Wallace. M. C. Escher Kaleidocycles, Pomegranate Communications; Petaluma, California, 1987. ISBN 0-906212-28-6.
  • Schattschneider, Doris. M.C. Escher : visions of symmetry, New York, N.Y. : Harry N. Abrams, 2004. ISBN 0-8109-4308-5.
  • M.C. Escher's legacy: a centennial celebration; collection of articles coming from the M.C. Escher Centennial Conference, Rome, 1998 / Doris Schattschneider, Michele Emmer (editors). Berlin; London: Springer-Verlag, 2003. ISBN 3-540-42458-X (alk. paper), ISBN 3-540-42458-X (hbk).
  • M.C. Escher: His Life and Complete Graphic Work, edited by J. L. Locher, Amsterdam 1981.


External links



— physical replicas of some of Escher's "impossible" designs Copyright issue regarding Escher from the Artquest Artlaw archive.