On his journeys through untouched parts of Italy in the spring and summer, enjoying himself was not Escher’s only aim. These hikes were also very much geared towards preparing for prints that they might inspire. During his travels, he took numerous photos which he pasted into a photo album, adding…
9 November 1778 saw the death of Giovanni Battista Piranesi, the Italian artist and architect regarded as the greatest graphic artist of his time. His fame was primarily due to his Vedute di Roma, a series of etchings with impressive views of the ruins and monuments of Rome. But above all it is Piranesi's famous fantasy prints about prisons, the Carceri d'Invenzione, that continue to appeal to the imagination so much to this day. Escher was a great admirer. When he moved to the Swiss town of Château-d'Oex in 1935, he hung a number of prints by Piranesi in his studio. As if he wanted to keep the memory of his old home town alive. The main thing these two artists have in common is their staggering imagination.
The exhibition ‘Glorious Glass: Optical glass art from the Czech Republic and Slovakia’ was supposed to be on display at Escher in The Palace until 8 November. Unfortunately, events have overtaken us. Due to the developments surrounding Covid-19, the museum will be closing for at least two weeks from 5 November. Thus putting an abrupt end to the Glorious Glass exhibition. For those keen to reminisce about the exhibition or for those who missed out, our curator Judith Kadee has written an interesting article about the unique collection of optical glass featured in the exhibition.
Cornelius Van Schaack Roosevelt was born on 23 October 1915. He was a man with many hobbies, though his greatest love was the work of M.C. Escher. From the moment he set eyes on some Escher prints in 1954 he was captivated and would go on to become an obsessive collector of everything that had anything to do with the graphic artist: prints, reproductions, letters, books, newspaper articles, and all kinds of Escher products. But the two also became personal friends, and Roosevelt became a confidant that Escher would often rely on.
Although Escher was fascinated by the regular division of the plane all his life, he always used his research into this phenomenon as a tool. He never created a tessellation as a stand-alone print. He came closest with the prints in his book The Regular Division of the Plane from 1958. For him, the many drawings featuring tessellations that he created were primarily a starting point for other work. This is clearly visible in his metamorphoses and cycles. Often these concepts coexist in the same print.
In October 1958, Escher created one of his most beautiful but also most complex objects. He did extensive research for Sphere Spirals, searching for a solution to show the open ribbons that form this sphere in a three-dimensional form.
M.C. Escher created illustrations for texts by other people in 1921, 1931 and 1932. But after Flor de Pascua, XXIV Emblemata and De vreeselijke avonturen van Scholastica (The Terrible Adventures of Scholastica) respectively, he was done with it. He no longer wanted to be associated with the book illustration profession. When the bibliophilic De Roos Foundation asks him in 1956 to illustrate a story by Belcampo, he refuses on principle. In his letter to the secretary of the De Roos Foundation, C.J. (Karel) Asselbergs, he says that he is not an illustrator by nature and that he considered illustrating a pure waste of time. He sees it as his duty to visualise his own personal thoughts. He proposes to make a book for De Roos himself, containing ‘word illustrations’ for his own prints.
Up early this morning to join the three Germans, the Stern family, on a trip to Giarre by train to see the same lava flow (from 1928) that I already saw and drew three years ago. There, I find a particularly typical subject: a house with a beautiful palm behind it, spared from the heavy lava destruction and completely surrounded by black lava.
Escher wrote this in his travel diary on 4 May 1936, detailing his voyage on and around the Mediterranean. The house — the subject of a drawing and (in August) of a lithograph — had (almost) fallen prey to a powerful opponent: Mount Etna.
One of the most wondrous prints by M.C. Escher is (Two) Doric Columns, a wood engraving in three colours that he created in August 1945, just after the liberation. After Balcony, it was the second new print that Escher produced following the euphoric days in May that year.
On July 29, 1961, the article How to read a painting (Adventures of the mind) by art historian Ernst Gombrich appears in the famous American magazine The Saturday Evening Post. Gombrich describes a number of Escher's prints in detail. The sub-heading reads: "By visual paradoxes the artist shocks the viewer into the realization that there is more to art than meets the eye." A phrase that can clearly be related to Escher. The article generated a lot of extra interest in Escher's work.