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M.C. Escher

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Nicholas Stessel

on 1 May 2014

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Transcript of M.C. Escher

Name- Maurtis Corneils Escher
Born- June 17, 1898
Place of Birth- Leeuwarden, Netherlands
Parents- George Escher and his second wife, Sara Gleichman
The fourth and youngest son of a civil engineer.
Died- March 22, 1972 (aged 73) in Laren, Netherlands
Nationality- Dutch
Discussion of People/ experiences which influenced him in his decision
External/ Internal pressures
He struggled in school and didn't believe he was a very talented artist
His father pushed him to peruse architecture
He told his father soon after going to school for architecture that he would rather study art.
His graphic design teacher pressured him to become a graphic artist instead of an architect.

Discussion of how his life affected views of emotion subjects painted

1916-1922-studying graphic design
1923-1935-married wife and began his travels through Italy.
1936-1940-He lived in Switzerland and Belgium.
1941-1954-He lived in Holland.
At school in Arnhem, he was fortunate to have a teacher named F. W. van der Hagen who first taught him how to cut a piece of linoleum. In 1916, Escher completed his first graphic work, which was a linoleum cut of his father.
Escher’s Work had a strong mathematical component, and more than a few of the worlds which he drew were built around impossible objects. Many of Escher’s works employed repeated tilings called tessellations
Escher’s experience of not doing well in school led him to a more visual form of intelligence rather than a more calculative form, leading to his creation of optical illusions.
His interest in architecture influenced the subject of many pieces, which are often buildings.
Particular style of painting
Escher’s style of painting was graphic art.
He used mostly the technique referred to as tessellation.
Many of his works of art are black and white, allowing the viewer to focus more on the illusions
Uses a lot of architecture to challenge the perception of reality.
He often used an intaglio technique which was mezzotint or he used three different relief techniques which are linocut, engraving, and woodcut.
How his paintings reflected his art style
Hand with Reflecting Sphere

1935- lithograph

This lithograph shows Escher's relationship with mathematics using a sphere that withholds the focus of the artwork which challenges viewers perspective of reality as he is gazing at his own reflection into the sphere.

Lack of color allows for focus on content
Centered evenly, steady
Round suggests wholeness
Dark values provide a gloomy mood
Escher placed him self in the center of the sphere supporting the theme of ego and self
Entire room compressed into the sphere
Hand and face lighter values to draw attention to self
1961 Lithograph
Ascending and Descending
Sky and Water 1


This woodcut shows Escher's understanding of mathematics through the exact placement and amount
of birds and fish, eating a tessellation that challenge the viewers perception of
reality while viewing the woodcut.

Black and white to focus on content. Contrast in color creates dramatic effect
Black bird fly in a sky of white fish and the white fish are swimming in a sea of black birds.
Closer to the top point the black birds are more detailed and defined, while at the bottom point the fish become more detailed and defined. This supports the theme of enlightenment.
The fish and birds between the top and bottom point have less detail because they are in the process of finding who they are.

“In the horizontal center strip there are birds and fish equivalent
to each other. We associate flying with the sky, and so for each
of the black birds the sky in which it is flying is formed by the four white fish encircle it. Similarly makes us think of water, and therefore the four black birds that surround the fish become the water in which it swims.” -M. C. Escher

1953 Lithograph
1960 Lithograph
Specific piece of art

The subject is the concept of lacking normal gravity

The lithograph is a still life

The general topic of this piece is - Winding staircases to challenge the viewers perspective of reality with architecture.

The content includes - Winding staircases with faceless characters seeming to impossibly ascend and descend. Doors, plants, and balconies add to the illusion. No color is present, just shading for a 3D effect.

Shapes-Circle-heads of people- suggest wholeness
Position of obj.-center of frame- conveys stability
Color of tone-Light tones-stairs, walls- happy, playful mood
dark tones- corners of stairwells- conveys mystery, dullness
Light- draws eyes to stairs and specific walls
Dim Lights or shadows- corners- mystery
Texture- smooth, emptiness or something modern
Position- center- conveys stability
Space- little space around subject seems dominating, overwhelming

Poem by us
The art of illusion
The skill of confusion
Challenge perspective
Is he objective
One sees something
Another sees nothing
Is it reality?
Or abnormality

The lines amaze
One can’t help but gaze
Some go upward
Some go downward
What is his tactic?
Could it be magic?

They tilt their head left, amused
They tilt their head right, confused
Shapes transform before the naked eye
But what they see could just be a lie
The shapes are twisted and twined
all to confuse the human mind
Is it all as it seems?
Or are these just simple dreams?

"A rectangular inner courtyard is bounded by a building that is roofed in by a never-ending stairway. The inhabitants of these living-quarters have the ritual duty to climb those stairs for a few hours each day. It would seem that when they get tired they are allowed to turn about and go downstairs instead of up. Yet both directions, thought not without meaning, are equally useless."

M.C. Escher

Why do we labor up the stairs?
To reach the tower? To climb
yet another flight
because it's there?
Is it to smugly meet again
each lesser acolyte
who chooses to descend?

The brother who looks on might know, or the laggard on the steps-
engrossed in the void beyond
or in despair

M.C. Escher
Time continued
Time cont.
Time Cont.
When his family moved to Arnhem in 1912 from Leeuwarden he entered school there and began his serious study of art.
Escher did not have mathematical training, in fact he actually failed the second grade.
Mentor, Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita- a well know graphic artist
Moorish landscape in Southern Italy.
Escher’s experience of not doing well in school led him to a more visual form of intelligence rather than a more calculative form, leading to his creation of optical illusions.
His interest in architecture influenced the subject of many pieces, which are often buildings.
M.C. Escher’s lithographs of optical illusions made with the use of mathematics reflected his style of illusionary graphic art. The works of art challenged the viewers perspective effectively, reflecting his style of tricking the mind.
Nothing about his art works is commonplace or typical. His landscapes, buildings, and even animals are all seen and drawn in a highly individualistic way which shows why his artworks challenges viewers perception of reality in order to demonstrate the spatial structure of his art.

This lithograph also displays Escher’s use of math and perspective
to challenge the viewers perspective of reality through creating
an optical illusion with bridges and a waterfall to confuse the eye
of the viewer.

Lack of color allows the viewer to focus on illusion
Background has lighter values so the viewer will focus on the architectural structure.
Centered and evenly spaced
On initial observation everything appears normal but upon closer observation things are not at they seem.
Water appears to flow up hill
One tower appears to be taller than the other but they are actually the same height.

This lithograph shows Escher’s skill in mathematics to challenge the
viewers perception of reality through his work with architecture.
The staircase seems to impossibly keep going around and around,
confusing anyone who sees it.

The theme and meaning of this work of art is conformity vs nonconformity.
Colorless the draw attention to content
Squareness shows stability
People darkly shaded to emphasize on them
The people all walk in a continuous path, while two people choose not to participate recognizing they will gain nothing from it.
Person on the stairs faces away from the people on the continuous stairs suggesting nonconformity.

Time: 1953

Place: Holland

Situation: Relativity is a lithograph that challenges viewers perception through illusion. The situation is the concept of lacking normal gravity

The intended audience is society as a whole which Escher scientifically and mathematically challenges their perception of the concept relativity.

Facts that support-Escher is scientifically trying to portray Einsteins theory/definition of the term relativity:

Trying to get the audience to realize that we control reality-


M.C. Escher's graphic art, based on his understanding of mathematics, challenges the viewers perception of reality because the illusions of perception inspire him through the spatial structure of abstract architecture.
Ascending and Descending by Catherine A. Callaghan
Optic: Overview
Relativity is a lithograph that challenges viewers perception through illusion.
Definition of lithography: the art or process of producing a picture, on a flat, specially prepared stone with some greasy or oily substance, and of taking ink impressions from this as in ordinary printing.
Seven sets of stairways ( each stairway can be used by people who belong to two different gravity sources)

Three gravity sources

Sixteen people or characters spread throughout the piece (dressed identically)- six in one gravity source, five in each of the other two

Windows and doorways leading to the outdoors (parks) along with doorways leading to the unknown.


Definition of relativity: Motion must be defined relative to a frame of reference and that space and time are relative

Once again the subject being covered is-

The title describes how the viewer can look at the picture in multiple ways and see something different because all of the images and action are relative to the viewers angle.

The staircases and gravity share an interrelationship- the staircases are in the direction that gravity is pulling them to be
Staircases and people-the people walk/ travel in the direction of the staircase they are on.

The message of the visual is to use through spatial structure of abstract architecture, in order to look at the picture in different ways which challenges the viewer perception of reality, because looking at it different ways reveals a new possibility.

Fun Facts
M.C. Escher, during his lifetime, made 448 lithographs, woodcuts and wood engravings and over 2000 drawings and sketches. Like some of his famous predecessors, - Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Dürer and Holbein-, M.C. Escher was left-handed.
Apart from being a graphic artist, M.C. Escher illustrated books, designed tapestries, postage stamps and murals.

1898- M.C. Escher was born in Leeuwarden, Friesland, in a house that forms part of the Princessehof Ceramics museum today.
1919 - Escher attended the Haarlem School of Architecture and Decorative Arts in Haarlem
1921- Escher first visited Italy with his parents and discovered the Italian landscapes and architecture that he would depict in his prints for the next fifteen 15 years.
1922 - Escher traveled through Italy and Spain.
1923 - On his next trip to Italy, he met the woman who would become his wife, Jetta, and moved with her to Rome.
1923 - On his next trip to Italy, he met the woman who would become his wife, Jetta, and moved with her to Rome.

Early 1930s - the rise of fascism was beginning to make life in Italy uncomfortable for the Eschers, who now had two young sons. In July of 1935, they moved to Chateau d'Oex in Switzerland. From May to June in of 1936, Escher and Jetta made their last study trip by freighter along the coast of Spain.

1935 - the political circumstances in Italy became unacceptable to Escher. He had no interest in politics, finding it impossible to involve himself with any ideas other than his own concepts through his own particular medium.

1937 - As war threatened Europe, Escher decided to move closer to his homeland, so the Eschers moved to Belgium.

1941 - Escher moved to Baarn, Holland, where he remained for the rest of his life. During the war, he visited the deserted house of his teacher de Mesquita and salvaged the prints that had been scattered there when German troops took the family away to a concentration camp, where they died.

1950s - he began producing so-called impossible figures, visual riddles which that follow the logic of pictorial representation yet could not possibly exist in reality.

1951- Articles on his work were published in Time and Life, and his work began to be displayed in galleries.

1954 - His work was exhibited in a large show as part of an international mathematics conference in Amsterdam.

1960s - Escher's visual illusions and paradoxes found a new audience among academics who were questioning conventional views of human perception and exploring alternative views of nature.

1960s - critics began to place Escher among the great thinkers of art for whom the act of seeing and reproducing visual images required careful examination of the fundamentals of perception.
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