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Escher todayHere we tap into dates from M.C. Eschers life and work, jumping through time but always in the now. All year round you can enjoy background stories, anecdotes and trivia about this fascinating artist.

Escher in 2019

We’ve nearly reached the end of 2018. On Escher Today and our Facebook timeline we have published many stories about the life and work of M.C. Escher. All the images we used are collected in this video. We thank everyone for your attention this year and we will keep providing…
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A light in the dark

Around 1930, Escher was not a happy man. He struggled with his health, he was unable to sell his work, he had financial difficulties and he lacked inspiration. He even thought about completely ending his artistic career. It was the art historian G.J. Hoogewerff who drew him out of his dip. He was director of the Dutch Historical Institute in Rome and a connoisseur of the Dutch and Flemish old masters. He asked Escher to make a series of emblemata, so-called 'images with adages'. Hoogewerff was lyrical about Escher's work and noticed many qualities in his oeuvre that he also saw in the old masters. This led to a collaboration that would mean a lot to Escher's career.

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Escher and The Rolling Stones

50 years ago, on 5 December 1969, The Rolling Stones launched the album Let It Bleed. It is one of the most famous Stones albums, featuring classic songs like Gimme Shelter, Midnight Rambler and You Can't Always Get What You Want. The cover features a cake and a record player, but it could have been a print by Escher.

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At the end of 1947, Escher produced a preliminary study and a print which typify how he sees the world: as an everlasting struggle between order and chaos. In his view, this was an observation of fact rather than a message or tribute to that world. He was fascinated by the regularity and inevitability of tight geometrical spatial figures, symbols of order in a chaotic world. Such figures initially appear simple and clear and yet are simultaneously mysterious and inscrutable. His half-brother, the geologist and crystallographer Prof. Dr Berend George Escher, shared his fascination, albeit from a professional point of view. Escher himself lacked a sound grasp of the underlying theories, but his naive fascination gave rise to some stunning work. From very small worlds (crystals) to very large (stars and planets). One of the prints embodying both brothers’ fascination is Crystal.

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David Umemoto about Escher

Last Thursday the new exhibition David Umemoto: Architect of the Impossible opened in Escher in The Palace. David Umemoto is a Canadian sculptor with a background in architecture. His mysterious sculptures of impossible buildings are exhibited side by side with the work of M.C. Escher until 9 February 2020. The printmaker has been an inspiration throughout Umemoto’s career.

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Saint Nicholas’ Church, Ghent

Maurits, Jetta and their two sons spent July and August of 1934 in the artists’ village of Saint-Idesbald. The village is home to several museums, including that of the world-famous surrealist painter Paul Delvaux. Escher had rented a house there, together with his brother Eddy and sister-in-law Irma. During that holiday, Escher and Jetta visited Ghent, Bruges and Tournai. That same holiday Escher created a woodcut of the cathedrals of Ghent and Tournai.

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Between 1946 and 1951 Escher experimented several times with the mezzotint technique. He was fascinated by the extremely subtle gradiations of light and dark that can be achieved in it. Even before the war, he made the first plans for creating his own works. He wasn't proficient in this technique and he sought advice from fellow artists such as Jan Poortenaar and W.G. Hofker on how to handle it. Dusk (Rome), from May 1946, is his first mezzotint and Plane Filling I, from March 1951, his last. It stopped at a total of 8 mezzotints. Although he was a patient man, the technique turned out to be too laborious and time-consuming for Escher. The most striking print of the series is Eye.

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The OMG moment of Waterfall

‘The fascinating OMG moment.’ This is how, in an edition of VPRO radio show OVT (see below, Dutch only), former curator Micky Piller describes the moment in which a viewer takes a second look at Escher’s lithograph Waterfall for the second time. At first glance, we see water cascading down from a raised platform. It looks straightforward enough. But on closer inspection the viewer experiences the OMG moment, when the brain cannot make sense of what the eyes are telling it. The water is flowing upwards. Upwards?! Waterfall is the work in which Escher deceives his viewers in the most direct way.

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A love of chess

M.C. Escher loved playing chess. The strategic board game was a pleasant form of entertainment for him. Not only was he a member of several chess clubs during his life, but he also found chess a nice way to pass the time on his many boat trips.

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Flying envelopes

For commercial assignments, Escher almost always chose subjects and designs that he had tried before. Commissions were necessary evils and rarely inspired him. Not that this was a real problem. Clients chose Escher because they were familiar with his work and were keen to see certain aspects of it feature in the end product. The commission that Escher received in the summer of 1956 was a little different. In September he produced a New Year’s card for the PTT (Dutch postal service), for which he had drawn the motif in one of his notebooks with tessellations shortly before. The design, which features winged envelopes, is clearly intended for the client. For his tessellations, Escher always used living objects, such as birds, fish, insects and other critters. In that sense, the envelope was an anomaly. But by giving them wings he was nevertheless imbuing them with an animal-like quality.

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More Escher today

Starting in Haarlem

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. It was not until moving here that the artist in him awoke, even…
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Escher’s beard

The first Saturday of September is World Beard Day. Naturally we commemorate the occasion through M.C. Escher, a fanatic beard-wearer. One might even suggest he was a hipster well before the term was even invented. He was in his early twenties when his distinctive look started to take shape. He…
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Jurriaan Andriessen’s Time Spirit

On 23 August 1996, the composer Jurriaan Andriessen, a descendant of a well-known family of artists, died. His grandfather Willem and his father Hendrik were also composers and his brother Louis still is. His sisters Caecilia (who passed away last week) and Heleen were also active in music. His uncle…
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