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Scarabs

You have just a few more weeks to see some remarkable wood engravings and woodcuts by Escher up close in The Palace. On 28 February they will be returned to the archive to be replaced by new graphic treasures. Earlier we discussed the wood engraving Grasshopper and the woodcut Tournai Cathedral.

Today we will focus on Scarabs, a wood engraving from April 1935. Scarabs are a subfamily of dung beetle. They collect dung from herbivores, like horses and camels, which they form into balls and lay their eggs in. Scarabs were revered as sacred in Egyptian mythology because Egyptians believed they erupted from these dung balls spontaneously. In hieroglyphs the image of a scarab stands for ‘xpr’ which translates as ‘to come into being’, ‘to become’ or ‘to transform’. In that sense the scarab is a beautiful metaphor for the creative force of the artist. In Escher’s case it is also symbolical for the many transformations in his work. In a prophetic way, even: it would take Escher another two years to create his first Metamorphosis

More Escher today