Icon’s visual puzzles ‘pops’ with realism

“Drawing Hands” 1958 lithograph, 11 1/8 x 13 in. © the M.C. Escher Company.


     (AAPNW-OH) – “We are so excited to offer viewers the chance to become enchanted with Escher’s unique vision of the world,” said Curator of Exhibitions Ellen Rudolph. “Spending time with his exquisitely executed prints will undoubtedly yield wonderful discoveries and, as Escher hoped to inspire in his viewers, pure astonishment.” As the last of only two hops in the US, the originals go on view Saturday, February 12 at the Akron Art Museum in the exhibition, “M.C. Escher: Impossible Realities.”  The show will remain on view through May 29.

     Noted as hard to understand, but in the league of the most brilliant of the 20th century, artist Escher relished in making visual works that question a viewer’s perception. “Are you really sure that a floor can’t also be a ceiling?” asked Escher. “Are you definitely convinced that you will be on a higher plane when you walk up a staircase?” These types of questioning, mixed with his illusions of space has earned him a position of apex ranking in pop culture iconography.

     On display will be 130 of the artist’s finest works, from the 1920-1960s, starting with his early book plates, moving on to landscapes, tessellations and impossible worlds, and concluding with his very last print, “Snakes” in 1969. Featured are recognizable works such as, “Drawing Hands and Reptiles,” as well as a very rare lithographic stone for the making of Flatworms and wood blocks, study drawings and single-color prints that illustrate his artistic process from concept to finished print.

     To find out more on related Escher programming, see www.akronartmuseum.org or call 330.376.9185. Also, you might want to be among others who will see the show before official public opening on Friday, February 11, from 7:00-10:00 pm. As one of only two U.S. venues for this show, it will remain on view in the Akron Art Museum through May 29. The exhibition comes from the Herakleidon Museum in Athens, Greece, which houses one of the world’s largest collections of Escher’s work.


“Relativity”1953 lithograph, 11 x 11 ½ in. © the M.C. Escher Company.


     Born Leeuwarden, Holland, Maurits Cornelis Escher (1898-1972) was never an outstanding student. He began his university studies in architecture but quickly changed courses to pursue the graphic arts. Upon finishing school, Escher traveled throughout southern Europe, with most of his time in Italy, where he was deeply inspired by the landscape and lived until 1937. His career as an artist began with landscapes derived from sketches he made while traveling.

     He has been received varyingly over the last half-century by art critics and historians, mathematicians, scientists, crystallographers and educators. Regarded by some as an ingenious mathematician, Escher has also been critiqued within the art world as more of an intellectual than an artist. During his lifetime, Escher created a total of 448 lithographs, woodcuts and wood engravings, and over 2,000 drawings and sketches.

     Printmaking was his chosen medium and his pencil and ink drawings and sketches were simply a way to record what he saw during his travels or to work out spatial and structural relationships. Although he experimented widely with wood engravings, lithographs and mezzotints, Escher preferred the woodcut and before he carved, he spent weeks to even months working out each tiny detail of his compositions.

     Decorative patterns that Escher encountered while traveling had a profound impact on his career, sparking a lifelong obsession with tessellations (repeating patterns that fill a plane). Majolica mosaics and stucco patterns at the Alhambra, a 14th century Moorish palace in Granada, Spain, enthralled him, as did cathedral decorations in Ravello, Italy, along the Amalfi coast. Tessellation figures were prominently in his work which captivated mathematicians and crystallographers, who continue to use them to illustrate complex concepts and theories.

     Escher left Italy in 1937 due to mounting discomfort with Mussolini’s Fascist regime. Less inspired by his surroundings in Brussels, Belgium and later Baarn, Holland, where he settled permanently, he began to turn inward for ideas, delving into the concepts of relativity, infinity and metamorphoses.

Published by on January 2011. Filed under Archives, Art-to-Art Marketplace Guide, At the Museums dept, PaletteBoards Section. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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