On June 7 1968, exactly 50 years ago today, ‘De werelden van Escher‘ (The worlds of Escher) , the first Dutch retrospective exhibition of M.C. Escher, opened in the ‘Gemeentemuseum’ in The Hague. It was motivated by Eschers 70th birthday, on June 17. It certainly wasn’t his first exhibition but it was the first time an important art museum, on its own initiative, would show a retrospective of his work. Approached both from an art history perspective and from Eschers personal systematics.
The opening was a huge succes. Together with his wife Escher was driven there by his son Jan. The auditorium was packed and in the next hall over a 100 people were standing, unable to enter. Escher was honoured with speeches and he himself gave a short lecture, accompanied by slides. The exhibition was attended by tens of thousands of visitors, who were encouraged by a bold exhibition poster and a long interview in magazine Vrij Nederland on April 20. The exhibition catalogue had to be reprinted in no time and Escher was interviewed by many Dutch and foreign journalists. The reviews were unanimously positive and showed that the authors had really immersed themselves in Eschers work.
Dutch newspaper ‘NRC’:
“The structure of the exhibition, which enables a multi-sided approach of Eschers work, is one of a kind, the way Escher is unique himself. A second artist to feature in such an exhibition would be very hard to find. Every true enthusiast and connaisseur on the graphic profession should admire him, if need be while dismissing his clever scientific side. His technical control of the woodcut, the wood engraving and the lithograph are masterful in a pure artistic sense. It really is impossible to decide on key works. His themes and the problems they face may change often, but the quality of the design artistically remains on the same level.”
And ‘De Volkskrant’:
“A man of science surprises himself, wants to understand, starts to analyse – an artist amazes himself, he lets the object of his amazement rest in his open hand and recreates it into a inspired image. The rarity of Escher is that his amazement stems from a highest order, a crystal, and that it confirms and explains this order artistically and visually. Out of this encounter an artistic life’s work has grown which is unique in the world.”
He had to turn 70 to get there, but Escher was finally taken serious by a large audience as graphic artist.
A selection of Dutch newspaper articles which appeared after the opening of the exhibition.