When you think of M.C. Escher, what do you think of?
I think of college dorm rooms with Escher posters on the wall, symbols of pop culture, statutes of intricate confusion and (no doubt) sources of psychedelic contemplation. They were the kind of images you were supposed to look at and see if the fish move or if the stairs go anywhere. And if you stared long enough, your whole world tilted sideways.
As an adult I have revisited his world of lithographs and woodcuts and wood engravings, and have discovered a delightful new way to look at the world.
Maurits Cornelis Escher (1898-1972) is one of the world’s most famous graphic artists. During his lifetime, he made 448 lithographs, woodcuts and wood engravings and over 2000 drawings and sketches. These feature impossible possibilities, explorations of infinity, and the magic of mathematics.
Art like this is done every day by those familiar with computer graphics. But the curved perspectives, the stairs to infinity, the play of light and dark, were sketched at the turn of the century. Which, to me, makes it even more fascinating.
When you stop and look — really look — at the thought and planning that went into the impossibilities in Escher’s work, it makes you appreciate his work even more. Where do those stairs really go? Which angle am I supposed to be identifying with? Is it a fish or is it a bird?
Minds like Escher’s work in the fourth dimension. It’s as if they look down at the world from a strange angle and record what they see.
Take some time and visit Escher’s official website, http://www.mcescher.com. You will find yourself wandering through gallery after gallery, wondering how a human mind could be so creative yet so spiral. Take a few moments and just look at the artwork — you will be enchanted by his point of view, and lost in his sketches.