M.C. Eschers imagery has appeared in museums worldwide and also on the walls of countless college dorm rooms since the 1960s. His work has been lovingly embraced by popular culture icons The Simpsons, and appears on neckties and in LEGO® re-creations. This fall, you will have the opportunity to see the original works created by one of the best-known draftsmen of the 20th century in M.C. Escher: Reality and Illusion, September 20, 2014 through January 5, 2015 at the Currier Museum of Art
in Manchester, N.H. The Curriers Escher retrospective is one of the largest and most comprehensive ever offered in the United States.
M.C. Escher (1898-1972) is best known for intricate geometric drawings and prints of spaces that can only exist on paper and in the viewers mind. His familiar images continue to boggle the eye and the brain, captivating viewers more than 40 years after his death. In Eschers world, stairways are built upside-down, water runs uphill and every object is reproduced with mathematical precision. This exclusive New England presentation will contain not only his best-known works of art, but also rarely-exhibited early drawings of family members, panoramic drawings of exotic landscapes and historic architecture, original preparatory sketches and mezzotints, and one of the lithographic stones he used to print a later work. Eschers work is appealing on so many levels, said Kurt Sundstrom, exhibition curator. The images are realistic but visually challenging, accessible but elusive, and entertaining but serious. Thats why his work appeals as much to the general public as it does to art scholars and mathematicians.
M.C. Escher: Reality and Illusion includes more than 180 original Escher prints and drawings from throughout his career. The works of art are presented chronologically across three gallery spaces. The first gallery features Eschers earliest, and perhaps least known, works in a section called Landscapes and Cityscapes. The second gallery showcases Eschers explorations into tessellation, infinity and depth, and includes his enormous woodcut Metamorphosis (1939-40), which spans 13 1/2 feet in length. The final gallery reveals Eschers Impossible Worlds, including two of his most popular and recognizable works, Waterfall (1961) and Relativity (1953).
The exhibition features several interactive learning opportunities for the whole family. Visitors can explore how tessellations work, or create perspective-bending, Escher- inspired self-portraits.
Born in Leeuwarden, Holland, Maurits Cornelis Escher was the youngest of five brothers. He loved the arts from an early age and made his first linocuts (designs cut into slabs of linoleum) at the age of 18. Three years later, he made his first woodcuts and by 1922 he provided woodcut illustrations for a friends book.
From the early 1920s through 1936, Escher travelled throughout southern Europe drawing landscapes, but his two visits to the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain in 1922 and 1936 proved transformative. The abstract interlocking decorative patterns on the floors and walls in the palace captivated Escher. He decided to exploit that idea, but instead incorporate recognizable human and animal forms in his tessellations.
When he and his family returned to Holland in 1941, his art was much more inspired by ideas in his mind such as: mirror images, multiple dimensions, infinity and impossible constructions. Although he was never trained in science and mathematics, the works of mathematician George Polya and books about crystallography fascinated Escher. He applied these studies to draw worlds of astounding symmetry and complexity. It is
a pleasure knowingly to mix up two- and three-dimensionalities
to make fun of gravity, said Escher. Are you really sure that a floor cant also be a ceiling? Are you definitely convinced that you will be on a higher plane when you walk up a staircase?"
Escher was heavily influenced by the work of Oscar Reutersvärd, a Swedish artist whose impossible figures were equally mind-bending. However, while Reutersvärds subjects were pure shapes, Escher pushed the boundaries further with his inhabited worlds. Drawings such as Relativity (1953), Waterfall (1961) and Ascending and Descending (1960) were clearly inspired by Reutersvärd.