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Pristine nature

Today is Kids’ Museum Night. One ticket enables children to visit 20 locations in The Hague and Voorburg. Our museum is participating as well, of course. The link between children and Escher is very clear. The graphic artist was able to look at the world with a curious eye and he managed to capture the playful spirit of children in his magical worlds. He also viewed nature with a sense of awe. For him, a mountain landscape, deciduous forest or summery lawn was never just a mountain landscape, deciduous forest or summery lawn. He saw details that no one else saw and he was able to enjoy to the fullest what nature had to offer him.

On 7 April 1957 he wrote in a letter to son Arthur:

‘For the past few days, now that the birds are becoming active and singing their hearts out, a beautiful woodpecker has been dropping by, just like the blue tits, to peck at the string of peanuts I hung up in front of my studio window. He is very timid and flies off if I make the slightest movement, but I have been able to observe him very closely a number of times by sitting quite still. He hangs upside down on the string, assisted by propping his tail, which is about 90 degrees to his body, against the other peanuts and he pecks like a madman, making a hole in the shell between his feet in no time at all. In doing so, he sticks his bright-red rump straight up. What miracles are happening in the world!

I experienced the second miracle recently at the “Blauwe Koepeltje” [ed. a ‘tea dome’ that no longer exists] — you know, on that open stretch of lawn between all kinds of beautiful clusters of trees on the Buitenzorg estate. For the first time in years I saw two deer grazing, at about seven o’clock in the evening. One was quite close, maybe 30 feet away. Its snow-white scut was towards me and the wind was in my direction. I must have stood there, absolutely still, watching it for about a minute. Then it obviously noticed me somehow: it turned around, looked at me for a moment, and bounded off at lightning pace. Its mate, which was grazing a little farther away, immediately followed this example, and in no time they had disappeared among the trees and the undergrowth. Such pristine nature, in the form of woodpeckers and deer, in the middle of—or at least very close to—that infernal motorway from Amsterdam to Amersfoort where an endless line of those stupid cars chase each other all day long, is extremely precious to me. It is the presence of these creatures of nature that allows me to accept, if not to understand, the crazy rushing and dashing about in our overpopulated country, patiently and without choking with rage.’*


[*] M.C. Escher, His Life and Complete Graphic Work, edited by J.L. Locher, Abradale Press, 1982, page. 88

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