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Escher today

Here we tap into dates from M.C. Eschers life and work, jumping through time but always in the now. All year round you can enjoy background stories, anecdotes and trivia about this fascinating artist.

Covered alley in Atrani

Escher was crazy about the jagged and vertical landscapes he encountered in Abruzzo and Calabria, on the Amalfi coast, on Sicily and on the French island of Corsica. He has traversed these areas for many years in a variety of ways. With his sketchpad in hand, in knickerbockers and wearing coarse argyle socks in sturdy walking shoes he climbed the Corsican peaks, descended to the coastline of Amalfi, walked through the rugged mountains in Abruzzo and Calabria and battled the heat of Sicily. But there was one place where he kept returning to: Atrani.

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Le Canard Gallery

From November 14 to December 14, 1950 Escher had an exhibition in the Amsterdam gallery Le Canard. He exhibited there together with his fellow graphic artist Harry van Kruiningen. The invitation card featured a vignette with little devils, a wood engraving that Escher had made especially for the exhibition. He showed graphic work and a hand-woven tapestry, as can also be seen on the card.

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Last week I wrote that Escher hasn't been positively regarded by art critics for years. But in the end he himself was his greatest critic. There are certainly exceptions, but often he was dissatisfied with his latest creation. This varied from 'this is just not good enough' and 'there should be more to it than this' to 'this really is a total failure.' At the end of October 1955 he was again dissatisfied with his work.

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Escher versus art criticism

Nowadays M.C. Escher may be very popular with both the general public and art critics, but this was certainly not always the case. He has been ignored for years by many art lovers and critics. His work was dismissed as being decorative and was at most technically well made. Contentwise he had nothing to report. This opinion is already reflected in the earliest reviews of the twenties and kept returning in the decades that followed.

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Wall mosaic in the Alhambra

On October 20, 1922, Escher creates a drawing that – in retrospect – would have a major impact on his life. He made his first voyage by freighter that autumn, from Amsterdam to the Spanish port city of Malaga. The ship also moored in Alicante and Taragona, after which Escher…
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Woodblocks and The Regular Division of The Plane

From 2 October 2018 to 13 January 2019, Escher in The Palace will show two special woodblocks that Escher cut in May 1957 and the book in which the accompanying prints were published. The blocks and the book come from the collection of Museum Meermanno in The Hague. Escher in The Palace is proud to be able to show them and we are therefore very grateful to Museum Meermanno for this loan.

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Da Vinci and Escher

As of today Leonardo da Vinci can be seen in the Teylers museum in Haarlem. It is the first major overview ever of original artworks by Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) in the Netherlands. Teylers shows 33 drawings of the master and as many works of contemporaries. Da Vinci was not only able to draw and paint beautifully, he is also world famous for his inventions of flying machines and military artillery. He did not see art and science as separate 'worlds'. For him they had everything to do with each other. This is where Da Vinci and Escher find each other. Both are first and foremost excellent observers. They look at the world with a logical, orderly view and know how to get those observations and the thoughts they derive from them on paper. They both did this with their left hand. Both are also part of popular culture through one or a few works (think of the Mona Lisa and the Vitruvian man and Relativity and Day and Night), but it is questionable if people know who the makers are.

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Houses in Rome

In October 1925 the young couple Maurits and Jetta can finally start setting up their first home. It's the top floor of a house that is still under construction, in a new neighborhood on the slopes of the Monteverde. The house on Via Alessandro Poerio 100 was beautifully situated with a view of the Tiber valley, in the southeastern part of the city. On the other side of the river was the Monte Palatino, with the Roman quarter Trastevere below. The couple had already bought the house at the end of 1924, but first they had to wait until it was finished, after which it turned out to be too humid. They let it dry all summer and spent those months at the Albergo del Toro in Ravello; the place where they had met.

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Hokusai’s big wave

On September 23, 1957, Escher returned to Amsterdam from a sea voyage with the freighter s.s. Luna. By then, Escher had long been addicted to traveling on cargo ships and he seized every opportunity to book such a trip. In August and September 1957 he bobbed for seven weeks on the Mediterranean Sea while enjoying the waves, the peace, the light and the silence. Back in the Netherlands, he mused on for a while.

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Repeating reptiles

Lizards had fascinated him for quite some time, but in the summer and fall of 1956 Escher was particularly busy with them. This fascination came not so much from the behavior or way of life of the creatures, but from the characteristic form. It lent itself very well for making tessellations. In that respect, a lizard (or salamander) interested him as much or as little as birds and fish did. These three animal groups are by far the most common in his work, but they owe that status purely to their form.

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More Escher today

First lithograph and Schaffhausen

Between 1927 and 1938 the Escher family spent almost every summer in the Swiss town of Steckborn, with Jetta's sister Nina and her husband Oskar Schibler. In 1929 they even stayed for several months, from July to mid-October. In spring Escher had already made a trip to the Italian Abruzzo…...
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A tunnel of butterflies, 1944

During the war years, the production of new prints fell sharply with Escher. He lacked inspiration and he had something else on his mind. But that doesn’t mean that he did not do any creative work. During the war years he threw himself unto his regular division drawings, in which…
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Portrait of father Escher, 1935

On August 25, 1935 Escher made fifteen prints of the portrait he had made of his father. On 4 July he and his family moved from Rome to the Swiss town Château-d'Oex, after which he traveled almost directly to the Netherlands to arrange things for a long stay in Switzerland.…...
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