September 1919 was a life changing month for Maurits Escher. His first lessons in architecture at the School for Architecture and Decorative Arts in Haarlem started on 6 September and on 17 September he moved to this city. In Haarlem the artist in him awoke, although architecture proved to be a false start. The choice for architecture was mainly inspired by his father, who saw his son as a future architect.
The first Saturday of September is World Beard Day. We of course celebrate this day through M.C. Escher, a fanatic owner of the beard. Maybe even a hipster, long before the word was invented. He was in his early twenties when his characteristic silhouette started to take shape: a tall skinny man with a big nose, somewhat messy hair and always in a suit. And thus crowned with a pointy beard that made his appearance even more refined.
On August 23, 1996, the composer Jurriaan Andriessen, a descendant of a well-known family of artists, died. He wrote a large and varied oeuvre with symphonies and other orchestral works, an opera, ballet, church and chamber music and also film music. A good example of his versatility is the symphony Time Spirit, in which works by Escher play a central role.
Today is International Left Handers Day. A day on which M.C. Escher, as a left-handed person, cannot be left unmentioned. This event was created to draw attention to the inconveniences that left-handed people encounter. The first was on August 13, 1976. On a Friday, which was a conscious choice. Escher was vigorously corrected at school and was forced to write and draw right-handed. A normal practice at the time. Although those corrections hardly had any effect, he later learnt to use his right hand just as good as his left one. Being ambidextrous brought him an advantage in his artistry.
For Escher and his sons George and Arthur, 1930 was a year of illness: the sons got pneumonia, an ear infection and whooping cough and he himself suffered from intestinal and electoral pains. In addition, he hardly sold anything and there were no assignments for new work.
Castrovalva (1930) and Castle in the Air (1928) could be seen in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam in April, during the group exhibition from artists' association St. Lucas, which celebrated its 50th anniversary. As a basis for work trips for Escher, but especially for relaxation, the family spent a large part of the summer in Switzerland.
On July 20 1969, Neil Armstrong took the first steps on the moon, exactly 50 years ago. He descended the stairs, set his foot on the powdery moon floor and said, "That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." The Apollo 11 mission still counts as one of the most iconic achievements of human ingenuity. A milestone that is remembered in all sorts of ways. Escher watched it too (probably) and has depicted the moon in his work on multiple occasions.
Like an intriguing jewel on an ink-black background, the shells from this wood engraving illuminate the immense dark space behind it. Concentric Rinds is one of Escher's most ingenious but also most mysterious works.
Philippe Druillet, born on 28 June 1944, is known for his baroque drawings and bizarre science fiction stories. After having worked as a photographer for several years, Druillet made his debut in comics in 1966 with 'Lone Sloane, le Mystère des Abîmes', a comic book that drew inspiration from Druillet's favorite writers H.P. Lovecraft en A.E. van Vogt. Later, Druillet would design several covers for re-issues of Lovecraft's work, and a number of filmposters.
'If I didn't have Tolkien! The lonely evenings are the most difficult for my patience. But he helps me through them with his fantastic world of Hobbits, Elves, Dwarves and good wizards, contrasted by the most horrible, diabolical monsters.'
This ode by Escher to the British writer and academic John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (1892-1973), who became world famous for his fantasy cycle The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and the posthumously published The Silmarillion, was written in a letter to son George dating 29 June 1962. His son Arthur had treated him to The Hobbit earlier that year, a book in which he read fanatically during his forced bedriddenness.
In June 1932, Escher was commissioned by the Dutch Historical Institute in Rome. The institute wanted to pay attention to a church whose visibility was threatened by the emerging new building sites in the capital. In the lithograph that Escher made of this San Michele dei Frisoni (the Frisian church), he allows himself a considerable amount of freedom. He does not depict the current (built in 1141) but the first version of the church. The original was destroyed by the Normans in 1084 during the Investiture Controversy. This controversy is known as the conflict between the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire Henry IV and the then pope Gregory VII.