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Lecture in Alkmaar, 1953

On 16 November 1953 Escher gave a lecture to the Friends of the Stedelijk Museum in Alkmaar, on the occasion of an exhibition of his work. During those years Escher had frequent opportunities to exhibit in museums, art galleries and universities, often together with two or more fellow members of the Association of Dutch Graphic Artists. He would usually accompany these exhibitions with a lecture on his own work.

Although in 1947 he had written to Bas Kist claiming to be a poor public speaker, he would subsequently prove otherwise. He was able to pack lecture halls, explaining his prints in a clear and fascinating fashion and increasingly enjoyed doing so. He never gave off-the-cuff lectures but always prepared them thoroughly and wrote down most of what he would say.

In his lecture in Alkmaar Escher spoke of  ‘feeling people’, ‘thinking people’ and ‘indifferent people’. He gave some examples of the way members of each group experience the moon. He stated that no one belongs to the thinking or feeling groups exclusively. Everyone is indifferent from time to time, but the point is to get rid of that and return to the state of open-mindedness with which a child faces the world.

‘For this fascinating game we do not even need the moon. Earth itself, this mighty planet, is sufficient enough for our imagination. In my imagination I sometimes see it floating, like a giant orange. Graceful and silent amidst the pure space around it. I see it revolving slowly, cherished on one side continuously by its mother, the sun. Threads and patches of clouds surround it and the glistening seas and multicoloured continents with their steaming plains and snowy mountaintops shimmer through. It is a magnificent sight of pure beauty and joy.’

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