Birds are a regularly recurring subject in Escher’s work, mostly in one of his many tessellations. Sun and Moon, a woodcut from April 1948, is one of them. But there is something special about this one.
To achieve an optimal result in a tessellation, the birds, fish, reptiles and other shapes are usually identical. But the 14 white and the 14 blue birds in this print are all different. As was the case in the famous woodcut Day and Night (1938), two worlds are integrated in Sun and Moon. But where they exist alongside each other in Day and Night (day on the left, night on the right), the two worlds in Sun and Moon are superimposed. The white birds are in the division of the red and yellow sun, making the blue ones stand out. The blue birds are embedded in the night sky, with a crescent moon in the centre and with stars, planets and a comet. In turn, the white birds are highlighted.