Around 1946 Escher became fascinated by mathematical spatial figures. He was captivated by the regularity and necessity of these shapes, which are mysterious and quite unfathomable to humans. This interest was encouraged by his half-brother, geologist and professor Berend George Escher, who gave him a copy of his standard work Algemene Mineralogie en Kristallographie (General Mineralogy and Crystallography, 1935).
Escher drew on this fascination to create both very small worlds (crystals) and very large ones (stars and planets). One of the most beautiful planets is Tetrahedral Planetoid, from April 1954. This immensely detailed woodcut depicts a tetrahedron in space. Its inhabitants have occupied every inch of this planet.
In his own publication M.C. Escher, The Graphic Work from 1959 he describes the print like this:
‘This little planet inhabited by humans has the shape of a regular tetrahedron and is encircled by a spherical atmosphere. Two of the four triangular surfaces, with which this body is faced, are visible. The edges which separate them divide the picture into two. All the vertical lines: the walls, houses, trees and people, point in the direction of the core of the body — its centre of gravity- and all of the horizontal surfaces, gardens, roads, stretches of water in pools and canals, are part of a spherical crust.’
As if a mythical but humanlike civilisation created its own mini-world.