5 facts about Maurits Cornelis Escher

By Gwylym Owen

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Maurits Cornelis Escher created unique and fascinating artworks that explore and demonstrate a wide range of mathematical ideas. Born in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands in 1898, while he was in school, his family planned to continue his father’s construction career. He started his career as a graphic designer, making woodcuts and lithographs. Later, his half-brother, professor of geology and later rector of Leiden University, Berend, informed him of the latest scientific literature in the field of crystallography.

Many of Escher’s most famous prints were inspired by these visual and theoretical ideas, as geometry and mathematics gradually became key elements in his work. Escher was a 20th century Dutch illustrator whose seminal work explored repetitive patterns, perception, space and transformation. Maurits Cornelis Escher (born 17 June 1898 in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands – 27 March 1972 in Laren) was a Dutch graphic artist known for his Achieve whimsical optical and conceptual effects. Maurits Cornelis Escher was one of the most famous graphic designers in the world.

Maurits Cornelis Escher, better known as M. C. Escher. The Dutch artist Maurits K. Escher (1898–1972) was a draftsman, book illustrator, tapestry designer and muralist, but his main job was as an engraver. Born in Leeuwarden, Holland, the son of a civil engineer, Escher spent most of his childhood in Arnhem.

Like his brothers, Escher received a varied education, including carpentry and piano lessons. The youngest of five siblings, Asher had the ability to visualize clear spatial patterns since childhood, and although he did not excel in many of his early studies, he attended the Harlem School of Architectural and Decorative Arts.

Escher then studied at the School of Architecture and Decorative Arts in Haarlem for several years, but gave up architecture to try to pursue a career as a graphic designer. In the late 1920s, while traveling extensively in Italy and Spain and meeting and marrying his wife Jetta, Escher exhibited regularly in Holland and in 1934 received his first American exhibition award. In 1941, with the outbreak of World War II and the German occupation of Brussels, Escher returned to Holland and settled in Baarn, where he lived and worked until shortly before his death.

When he moved from Italy to Switzerland and then to Belgium with his family, he devoted himself to creating a large number of paintings based on perspective and symmetry, which became some of his most famous works. His work received little attention until the 1950s, but in 1956 he had his first major exhibition, appeared in Time magazine, and achieved worldwide fame. However, despite his renown, he has struggled to find critical recognition in the art world, largely due to the highly erudite nature of his work. While other prominent artists have explored mathematical themes in their work, Escher’s art is also closely tied to his love of models and graphic design, and thus lacks the quality of storytelling that critics deem necessary.

Escher’s artistic expressions are created from his imagined images, not directly from sightings and travels in other countries. His multi-layered interest in artistic reality is reflected in works such as Drawing Hands (1948), which shows two hands, each drawing the other. Much of Escher’s later art focused on mathematical forms, such as Möbius Strip II (The Red Ant) (1963) and The Knot (1966), but in his last major work, The Snake His continued fascination with symmetry can be seen in (Serpents, 1969). Color some of his works. Printed in July 1969, the rotationally symmetrical woodcut “Snake” was Escher’s last work before his death in 1972.

Escher’s work can be defined as a form of artistic expression far removed from the usual understanding and perception of space and dimension. Escher’s unique way of thinking and rich graphics had a lasting impact on mathematics and art, as well as popular culture. Escher’s work is still widely reproduced, and his images become a source of inspiration in all areas of popular culture.

After Escher’s death in 1972, his most famous images became ubiquitous. Fittingly, given the artists’ mathematical playfulness, some of the richest homages to his work in modern times have come to the video game world. Here, STIR explores some of his most famous works of art, with worldwide recognition among scientists, mathematicians, and artists.

His first reproduction of impossible reality was Still Life and Street (1937); impossible scales and multiple visual and gravitational perspectives are featured in popular works such as Relativity (1953). They settled in Baarn, where Escher expanded his use of impossible spaces and optical illusions in his art, producing his most famous works during this period. Escher illustrated books, designed tapestries, stamps and frescoes.

He is the youngest son of civil engineer George Arnold Escher and his second wife Sarah Gleichmann. At the age of seven (1905), he spent most of his time alone, recovering in the sanatorium orphanage in Zandvoort.

Escher enrolled at the Haarlem School of Architecture and Decorative Arts to study architecture, but switched to the decorative arts that same year, studying with graphic artist Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita. De Mesquita taught the enthusiast Escher everything he knew about wood-printing techniques, gave him space to experiment, and encouraged him to experiment actively to develop his skills. Escher regularly complained about his lack of natural drawing skills, and as a result, most of his work was time-consuming and required numerous attempts before he was completely happy. Although he was not an outstanding student, his dedication to art was evident, and by 1917, together with his close friend Bas Kist, he was already printing some of his work in the studio of the painter Geert Stegemans. A chance meeting with Samuel Jesserum de Mesquita, a graphics teacher, proved to be a turning point in Escher’s life, and he became convinced that the graphic arts program was more suited to his abilities.

Although Escher had no mathematical background – his understanding of mathematics was largely visual and intuitive – his art had a strong mathematical component, and many of the worlds he painted were built around impossible objects. Escher developed a style of print and engraving that played distinctly with orientation and space. Escher was also fascinated by mathematical objects such as the Möbius strip, which has only one surface.

Based on theoretical ideas such as perception, geometry and mathematics, the artist began to create works using the repeated arrangements of intersecting shapes he found in Islamic art. From hand-drawn illustrations to landscape birds, he creates dynamic, illusory designs based on mathematical concepts such as mosaics and perspective. He also explored mezzotint, a demanding and precise metal carving technique with which he produced some of his famous black and white works, including The Eye (1946), The Gallery (1946), Crystal (1947) and Dewdrop (1948).

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