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Just Like Escher

1 November 2023 to 24 March 2024

The themes close to M.C. Escher’s heart are still alive and kicking. Even today, we see artists incorporating optical illusion, reflection, nature and architecture into their artworks. In the major exhibition Just Like Escher, Escher in The Palace shows how contemporary artists and designers such as Damien Hirst, Iris van Herpen, Chris Ofili and Carlijn Kingma challenge Escher’s ideas.

Damien Hirst, Memento, etching, aquatint and watercolour, 2008. Kunstmuseum Den Haag, on long-term loan from The Monique Zajfen Collection
M.C. Escher, Eye, mezzotint, seventh and final state, October 1946

Impossible objects, masterful metamorphoses and absurdist architecture. In Just Like Escher, Escher in The Palace brings to life famous themes associated with Escher through contemporary art. Thirty-six artists, both national and international, illustrate how current and challenging Escher’s themes remain, and how his work lives on and evolves in contemporary culture.

Escher was an important source of inspiration for British fashion designer Alexander McQueen. Just Like Escher features a dress from his Horn of Plenty collection, in which Escher’s influence can be seen in the pattern. Photographer Marwan Bassiouni and Escher share a fascination with merging multiple worlds in their work. The labyrinthine architecture of the large sculptures by Belgian sculptor Renato Nicolodi reflect Escher’s love of impossible buildings.

Studio Lennarts & De Bruijn designed a room-sized wallcovering inspired by tiles from the Alhambra, which was also a tremendously important source for Escher. On the second floor, Studio Wae has created a new floor from recycled materials that combine to form an Escherian pattern. Even the wrapping paper in the Palace’s gift shop is a work of art during the Just Like Escher exhibition. It was designed by Hansje van Halem and inspired by Escher’s wrapping paper design used for many years by department store De Bijenkorf.

M.C. Escher, Convex and Concave, lithograph, March 1955
Popel Coumou, 113_Untitled 2019, collage, pigment print, 2019. Collection Kunstmuseum Den Haag

Each work is a surprising response to Escher’s work. Sometimes Escher is literally chosen as a point of reference, sometimes the creator shares Escher’s fascination with certain themes but gives them an entirely unique twist. So the similarities between Escher and contemporary artists can be both conscious and unconscious, but the interplay always creates new perspectives.

The participating artists are Damien Hirst, Iris van Herpen, Chris Ofili, Alexander McQueen, Jan Taminiau, Carlijn Kingma, Hans Op de Beeck, Ruri Matsumoto, Levi van Veluw, Koos Breukel, Maria Roosen, Studio Lennarts & De Bruijn, Jan van der Ploeg, Popel Coumou, Stéphane Couturier, Sigrid Calon, Nazif Lopulissa, Renato Nicolodi, AFARAI, Satijn Panyigay, Marwan Bassiouni, Anton Bakker, Susanna Inglada, Hansje van Halem, Henri Jacobs, Ishraq Zraikat, Helena van der Kraan, Sybren Renema, Gijs Van Vaerenbergh, Louisa Boyd, Studio Wae, Jelle Korevaar, Raquel Maulwurf, Stefan Bleekrode, Dora Lionstone and Annemarie Petri.

Iris van Herpen, Aeriform AW2017/18, Lasercut white cotton and mylar on transparent tulle, 2017
Carlijn Kingma, Spolia of A Thousand Expectations, pen on paper, 2017. Collection Kunstmuseum Den Haag

Sigrid Calon, To the extend of / \ | & - nr. 120, risoprint, 2012
Marwan Bassiouni, New Swiss Views #3, pigment print mounted on dibond, 2021. Collection of the artist, courtesy of Dürst Britt & Mayhew

Koos Breukel, Vondelpark, Frozen Pond, silver gelatin print, c. 1999. Collection Kunstmuseum Den Haag
M.C. Escher, Three Worlds, lithograph, December 1955

The exhibition Just Like Escher is part of Escher Year 2023, marking 125 years since the birth of M.C. Escher. The anniversary is being celebrated throughout The Hague, with a range of exhibitions, events and city dressing.