For this critical & contextual studies presentation, I am going to present you and talk about Maurits Cornelis Escher, better known as M. C. Escher.
I decided to talk about him, because his works is incredibly interesting to observe. They are all very mysterious and unexpected, so that why I wanted to know more about himself. I started to know Escher three years ago in my previous Art school in Switzerland, and since then, I have been really fascinated about what he created. So that why I wanted to go further in my research about him and develop more the understanding of his work.
If there are any relations between M.C. Escher and fashion design, I can tell you honestly that first of all, he is just one of the best artists of his time, I admire him a lot and I am deeply interested in his work. Then of course I can learn a lot from him and get a lot of inspiration such as all these interesting shapes and lines, but most from his paradoxical1 inventions and constructions he used to create in his drawings and paintings.
Maurits Cornelis Escher was born in 1898 and passed away in 1972 in the Netherlands. Escher is a Dutch graphic artist, one of the most well-known artist around the world, better known for his impossible constructions, full of paradox.
During his lifetime, he didn’t only draw imaginary drawings, but also some realistic work, most of them were realised during the time he lived and travelled through Italy.
During his period of life, he made in total 448 lithographs, woodcuts and wood engravings and almost 2000 drawings and sketches.
Escher wasn’t only a graphic artist; he also illustrated books, designed tapestries, postage stamps and murals.
First he didn’t choose to study graphics art even he liked it a lot, but he started as student in the branch of architecture and decorative arts in the Netherlands. Actually he only spent few weeks studying architecture and decorative arts after he showed some of his drawings to his graphic teacher who encouraged him immediately to continue with it instead of what he was currently studying.
1 paradoxical : It is something self – contradictory. A situation that could be difficult to understand because it contains two opposite facts.
From where did his inspirations come from? :
During almost 11 years he travelled around Italy, drawing and sketching so he could print them ones back home. He said that he liked Italy, but not the whole country, only the south part of Italy, because he was able to interpret the beautiful landscapes that were in front of him and also these typical houses with their round roofs and the stones that surrounded them.
In 1922, Escher became fascinated and interested by the Regular Division of the Plane2, when he first visited the Alhambra, a fourteen-century Moorish Castle in Granada, in Spain.
Escher was positively surprised by the complex decorative details on the Castle, all based on mathematics formulas showing repetitive motifs that fitted together. All these motifs were sculpt inside the stones of the walls and on the roof. They had a deep influence in Escher’s work.
For his further work inspired by the Regular Division of the Plane, he continued to be inspired by his realistic drawings made in Italy, taking back landscapes, houses or whatever he was able to observe in the realistic world.
In the same year, he travelled throughout Switzerland and during the Second World War he continued to draw. In total he made 137 Regular Division drawings.
In all his work, Escher played with architecture, perspective and impossible spaces. We can easily recognize his keen observation of the world around us and the way to express his own fantasies. I can say that Escher showed to everybody that reality is wonderful, comprehensible and fascinating.
Surprises & mathematics:
So what you could see and what makes Escher’s work unusual and interesting is that he always repeats infinity until it is no more possible and that makes the impossible understandable about all his work. He juxtaposes figures and creates a kind of story behind.
When people discover some of his work, possibly that they could be surprised in a positive way.
First, there are two types of surprise; one is a coincidence, the other is meticulously planned. It is often hard to say who has the biggest enjoyment; the person who is surprised or the one who imagine the magic.
2 Regular Division of the Plane: Irregular shapes that interact together to cover a surface or a plane
M.C. Escher was a quite clever planner of many surprises seen from the second definition about magic. At first look, much of his work appears natural, but then at second look, it is obviously logic to see impossible spaces and the viewer is magnetise to inspect again and again the work until he discovers with pleasure the hidden surprises the work contains.
All these magic surprises are not done so easily, the main key of these effects is mathematics. Don’t worry, it in not the mathematics with numbers and equations, that for lots of us seems already impossible to solve, but the main key is geometry, manipulated in all different ways.
M.C. Escher wasn’t an expert in mathematics, so he had to read technical works written by scientists and mathematicians. He really didn’t like mathematics, but at the end he understood the vital necessity of it otherwise it would be impossible to create his drawings.
After the understanding, he was always looking for to invent new things, for example when he decided to draw with the help of curvilinear perspective instead of straight lines, and also normally everybody learnt to make depth with a vanishing point, but Escher decided to do make it differently and add a second one, so it would give the double of impression of infinity.
Reflection & conclusion:
During all my journey throughout the research, I discovered and learnt such a lot, you can not imagine. Not only about himself and his work, but also the way how to understand all his theories, thoughts, and how to observe his work is something very important. Observe and invent, develop your ideas; his work routine looked often like this:
Think-sketch-effort-result-finally enjoy drawing the final work on paper or woodcut- show the final work.
He can influence me a lot, it is just the way he did everything, the way he thought and demonstrated it. There is never enough to invent and develop ideas; we just have to be curious and observant.
Thank you for your kind attention!
Italian Period: Realistic work – Landscapes
San Gimignano 1923 woodcut 483x289mm
Coast of Amalfi 1931 woodcut 480x650mm
From where did his inspiration come from?
Alhambra Castle in Granada in Spain
Geometric shapes, figures on the walls
Horse (No.8) 1937-1938 pencils, watercolour
Lizard (No.25) 1939 India ink, pencil, watercolour
Switzerland & Belgium
Snow 1936 lithograph 273x325mm
Still life and street 1937 woodcut 490x487mm
Regular Division drawings:
Reptiles 1943 lithograph 385x334mm
Convex and concave 1955 lithograph 335x275mm
Balcony 1945 lithograph 234x297mm