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Artists M.C. Escher
M.C. Escher Photo

M.C. Escher

Dutch Printmaker, Draftsman, and Illustrator

Movements and Styles: Op Art, Surrealism, Expressionism

Born: June 17, 1898 - Leeuwarden, Netherlands

Died: March 27, 1972 - Laren, North Holland, Netherlands

M.C. Escher Timeline

Quotes

"Only those who attempt the absurd will achieve the impossible."
M.C. Escher
"We adore chaos because we love to produce order."
M.C. Escher
"He who wonders discovers that this is in itself a wonder."
M.C. Escher
"I could find an entire second life with working on my prints."
M.C. Escher
"At moments of great enthusiasm it seems to me no one in the world has ever made something this beautiful and important."
M.C. Escher
"The things I want to express are so beautiful and pure."
M.C. Escher
"I don't grow up. In me is the small child of my early days."
M.C. Escher
"Order is repetition of units. Chaos is multiplicity without rhythm."
M.C. Escher
"The hand is the miraculously refined tool, the intermediary between spirit and matter."
M.C. Escher
"If you want to express something impossible, you must keep to certain rules. The element of mystery to which you want to draw attention should be surrounded and veiled by a quite obvious, readily recognizable commonness."
M.C. Escher
"It's pleasing to realize that quite a few people enjoy this sort of playfulness and that they are not afraid to look at the relative nature of rock-hard reality."
M.C. Escher
"So let us then try to climb the mountain, not by stepping on what is below us, but to pull us up at what is above us, for my part at the stars; amen."
M.C. Escher
"Filling two-dimensional planes has become a real mania to which I have become addicted and from which I sometimes find it hard to tear myself away."
M.C. Escher

"I am always wandering around in enigmas."

M.C. Escher Signature

Synopsis

Escher broke down the boundaries between art and science by combining complicated mathematics with precise draftsmanship and an eye for the unusual. His work is a combination of intricate realism and fantasy. He is most famous for his 'impossible constructions', images which utilize mathematical shapes, architecture, and perspective to create a visual enigma, but he also produced subtle and original work drawing inspiration from the Italian landscape. Most of Escher's art was produced as prints - lithographs or woodcuts and its appearance and subject matter was quite unique at a time when abstract art was the norm.

Key Ideas

Despite not having a formal mathematical training, Escher had an intuitive and nuanced understanding of the discipline. He used geometry to create many of his images and incorporated mathematical forms into others. Additionally, some of his prints provide visual metaphors for abstract concepts particularly that of infinity, the depiction of which Escher became interested in later in his career. During his lifetime Escher kept abreast of current ideas in the field and corresponded with several eminent mathematicians on the subjects of interconnecting and impossible shapes incorporating their ideas directly into his work.
Escher highlighted the contradiction of representing three dimensional objects on a two-dimensional plane and this is particularly clear in images such as Drawing Hands (1948) in which two hands (seemingly simultaneously) engage in the paradoxical act of drawing each other into existence.
As an artist Escher worked alone and was not affiliated to any particular group even to Surrealism to which his images are closest in spirit. His work had an impact on the development of Op Art, but he rejected any association with the movement stating that "there are young people who constantly come to tell me: you, too, are making Op Art. I haven't the slightest idea what that is, Op Art. I've been doing this work for thirty years now".
Escher worked with three main printing techniques woodcuts, lithography and mezzotints. The process to create his detailed and precise images was time-consuming and required a great deal of skill and manual dexterity. Over the course of his 60 year career he produced a total of 448 prints, an average of only seven or eight a year.

Biography

M.C. Escher Photo

Childhood

Maurits Cornelis Escher, known as 'Mauk' by his family was the fifth and youngest child of Sarah and George Escher. He had a comfortable middle-class childhood and his memories from this period were happy ones. In 1903, the family relocated to the city of Arnheim where Escher attended school, an experience that he disliked intensely. Despite being a time which Escher would later refer to as a 'hell', he found some comfort in drawing classes where he began to sketch and learn linocuts. Although he was not an exceptional student his devotion to art was apparent and by 1917, along with his close friend Bas Kist, he was already printing some of his works in the artist Gert Stegeman's studio.

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M.C. Escher Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
M.C. Escher
Interactive chart with M.C. Escher's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Leonardo da VinciLeonardo da Vinci
Albrecht DürerAlbrecht Dürer
Giovanni Piranesi
Hieronymus BoschHieronymus Bosch
William Hogarth

Personal Contacts

Roland PenroseRoland Penrose
Lionel Penrose
Albert Flocon
H.S.M. Coxeter

Movements

DadaDada
CubismCubism
SurrealismSurrealism

Influences on Artist
M.C. Escher
M.C. Escher
Years Worked: 1916 - 1972
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Christopher Nolan
Jim Henson
Sarah Kabot

Personal Contacts

Albert Flocon
Andre Barre
H.S.M. Coxeter

Movements

Op ArtOp Art
SurrealismSurrealism

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Cite this page

Content compiled and written by Sarah Frances Dias

Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Kate Stephenson

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Sarah Frances Dias
Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Kate Stephenson
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