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Birds welcoming Spring

The weather in the Netherlands isn’t really cooperating, but it is true: today is the start of Spring!

When thinking about Escher the first form that springs to mind in this theme is a bird. He created hundreds of them. In his woodcuts, wood engravings and occasionally in a lithograph. Sometimes by themselves, sometimes in a group. But most often he used them in his tessellations, in which countless birds fill the page. These tessellations with birds appear mostly in his sketchbooks with regular division drawings, but he uses them in his prints too.

Like in this wood engraving from April 1949. First he made a repeating pattern of six interlocking birds. Three white ones and three black ones. In a bigger tessellation he repeated this pattern six times, creating an tessellation of 36 birds. Then he stops. In his sketchbooks he would fill the page up with a neverending pattern but for this wood engraving he deems a six times repeat sufficient. This creates a wonderful residual shape that invites viewers to add countless birds in their heads themselves. So many, Spring will surely come now!

M.C. Escher, Plane-filling Motif with Birds, wood engraving, April 1949
M.C. Escher, Regular Division of the Plane with Birds, wood engraving, April 1949 (clarification of the pattern)

More Escher today