M. C. Escher
Guy Lochhead, 14/02/12
Dutch visual artist who paired an interest in mathematics with an interest in romantic landscapes and made illusionary, repeating patterns, influenced by Islamic devotional art and impossible architecture. He was a sickly child who didn’t do too well at school. He flirted with studying various things, including architecture, but it was a trip to the Mediterranean in 1922 that proved most influential to his career. There he saw beautiful seascapes alongside the Moorish architecture of southern Spain and found a new passion for creating intricate decorative art pieces. He moved to Switzerland and found the miserable weather a catalyst for creativity – confined indoors, he could give hours to his woodcuts and linoleums. Escher is a fascinating and inspiring character – a failure who made a life for himself by following the things that were interesting to him, however disparate they may have been. He recognised his original perspective and published an amazing book called ‘Regular Division Of The Plane’ in which he suggested a new way of observing reality. Despite having had a hard time as a child academically, he was committed to learning throughout his life, studying under mathematicians in order to develop his art and his special understanding of the world. His work gains an extra resonance in today’s environment of digital image manipulation. For this reason, I think a little information on the background to his process is important. I will include ‘Escher On Escher’ (collected lectures), ‘Regular Division Of The Plane’ and ‘Escher: The Complete Graphic Works’. I know from friends’ and personal experience that his drawings have a similar sort of appeal to children as Where’s Wally, W. Heath Robinson and other densely constructed picture books. It’s cool that they also introduce some pretty far-out mathematics, and that he was a good, driven guy too…

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