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Other World

The dazzling print Other World is one of Escher’s masterpieces. And rightly so. He created this combination of woodcut and wood engraving in January 1947. It is like looking through the windows of a brick room upon a crater-filled lunar surface. This is remarkable in itself, but what makes this print really impressive is that Escher combines three views (nadir, horizon and zenith) on this moon in one image.

He reinforces these views with a suspended horn and the bird Simurgh (a mythical creature from ancient Persia) in the windows. In a continuous struggle, each perspective tries to capture the attention of your brain. Each vies for prominence, the battle never producing a victor. It is a beautiful example of Escher’s power to play with perspective and with the expectations of his audience.

In a 1947 interview with the monthly periodical Phoenix, Escher talks about a number of themes, including the little room featured in Other World. He explains that the print explores the possibility of viewing your surroundings like a bird, because it allows you to see everything from every conceivable vantage point. As Escher puts it,

At a glance’ the bird looks ‘straight ahead, to the left and to the right, up and down.

and

However, that one looks upwards and downwards on the same image and also sees the horizon, is, to say the least, so unusual for humans that it must have happened in another world.

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