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Transcript of M.C. Escher
Born: June 17, 1898 in Leeuwarden, Netherlands
He started learning carpentry and to play the piano at an early age, but failed at both. He never officially graduated because he failed his final exams.
He began private lessons & studies in architecture in 1918.
In February of 1924, he participated in his first one-man art show.
Married Jetta Umiker in 1924; they settled in Rome and had three children
Died: March 27, 1972 in Laren, Netherlands
At home with his wife and family (from 1916-1922), Escher initially worked on woodblock engravings and prints that captured natural landscapes and architecture, often manipulating the perspective, orientation, and shadow. He created human-oriented works, including numerous self-portraits and renderings of his family members.
After traveling excessively through Italy in the early 1920s to the mid 1930s, Escher began experimenting once again. He moved from creating primarily linoleum carvings to woodcuts. The subjects he chose to portray began to evolve. It was during his "Italian Period", that he began to play with different perspectives.
"Hand with Reflecting Sphere" (1935)
Switzerland & Belgium
After his long stint in Italy and creating a great deal of Italian-influenced art, Escher traveled to Switzerland and then Belgium. During this period in his life (1935-1941), we can see another change in his artistic style. While he continued to create woodcuts, he evolved from his comfort zone of still-lifes and self-portraits to tessellations and optical illusions (Op Art), which he would ultimately become best known for.
The following images are of Escher's earliest works. Most are linoleum cuts, but in the early 1920s, he began experimenting with woodcuts and etchings.
"Tower of Babel" (1928)
"Still-Life with Spherical Mirror" (1934)
"Sky and Water I" (1938)
"Metamorphosis II" (1940)
Woodcut in black, green, and brown, printed from 20 blocks on 3 combined sheets
"Escher's Father" (1916)
Linoleum cut in purple
Linoleum cut in 2 tones of grey
"Seated Female Nude" (1920 or 1921 - one of many)
Back in Holland
During this period in Escher's artistic career, we see a shift in medium once again. He begins to create lithographs in addition to his traditional woodblocks. Escher also took his experimentation with perspective to a new level and began to dabble more with optical illusions.
"Eye" (1946 - 7th and final stage)
"Drawing Hands" (1948)
Recognition & Success
Though he had been creating art since the early 1900s, M.C. Escher's work was not widely popular until 1955-1972 at his death. During this time span of almost 20 years, he continued his early work in tessellations and optical allusions, which he is best known for today.
"Bond of Union" (1956)
"Ascending and Descending" (1960)
"To have peace with this peculiar life; to accept what we do not understand; to wait calmly for what awaits us, you have to be wiser than I am."
"There are young people who constantly come to tell me: you, too, are making Op Art. I haven't the slightest idea what that is, Op Art. I've been doing this work for thirty years now."
This is the way he signed most of his works.
In Escher's famous piece "Hand with Reflecting Sphere", he utilizes line, texture, and space to create a successful composition.
His use of line is truly excellent, as we can witness in the accurate curve and distortion Escher creates in the spherical mirror. He uses this element of art so well, the lithograph print almost looks like a photograph. He uses line to draw the viewers' eyes to the sphere.
The texture in this composition is also unparallelled. Somehow, Escher is able to replicate the smoothness of the reflecting sphere, yet still create the wrinkled roughness of a human hand.
Finally, Escher's use of space completes the lithograph print. He draws viewers' eyes to the sphere with line, thereby causing us to ignore the negative space behind it. The background of this piece is dark and blank. There is actually a great deal of negative space, but we do not notice it because the positive space so overwhelms us.