June 22nd, 2015

The Impossible World of M.C. Escher

A retrospective of M.C. Escher’s work begins next week in Edinburgh’s National Gallery of Modern Art and this has inspired The Guardian to publish an excellent article about this enigmatic artist. Here are few excerpts:

“The artist who created some of the most memorable images of the 20th century was never fully embraced by the art world. There is just one work by M.C. Escher in all of Britain’s galleries and museums, and it was not until his 70th birthday that the first full retrospective exhibition took place in his native Netherlands. Escher was admired mainly by mathematicians and scientists, and found global fame only when he came to be considered a pioneer of psychedelic art by the hippy counterculture of the 1960s.

[One of] Escher’s enduring fascinations: the contrast between the two-dimensional flatness of a sheet of paper and the illusion of three-dimensional volume that can be created with certain marks.. space and the flat plane coexist, each born from and returning to the other, the black magic of the artistic illusion.

In the late 1930s, Escher also became obsessed by the “regular division of the plane”, in which shapes (often fish, lizards or birds) are tiled across a flat plane in such a way that the spaces between them make other, recognisable shapes. (This technique was directly inspired by the Islamic tiled artwork Escher studied at the Alhambra.)

Day and Night (1938) – shown below – features black and white bird forms arranged in this way over a chequerboard countryside. In many of these images the distinction between foreground and background is obliterated: the viewer can choose to see one or other set of shapes as foreground at will.

Escher’s greatest pictures are not simply geometric exercises; they marry formal astonishment with a vivid and idiosyncratic vision. Escher’s art at its best, then, is not just surprising but also surprisingly readable, putting him in the company of the great allegorical printmakers such as Albrecht Dürer.”

via The Guardian http://bit.ly/1QI3UKE



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