M. C. Escher: Only Those Who Attempt the Absurd Will Achieve the Impossible

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  • Topic: M. C. Escher, Woodcut, Printmaking
  • Pages : 5 (1814 words )
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  • Published : November 5, 2012
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M.C. Escher once said, “Only those who attempt the absurd will achieve the impossible.” When people think of great art today, the most common names the come to mind are Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Monet, Van Gogh, and Picasso among others. People picture appealing aesthetic as well as a variety of content. Throughout history, art styles have evolved from religious and realistic to abstract and even mathematical. Maurits Cornelius Escher was pioneer and innovator in the twentieth century with the creation of novel mathematical art styles. Through experimentation, he discovered and explored concepts that won him the following of artists and scientists alike. He approached his art like a science, carefully examining each and every part. Like most artists, Escher’s skill and style grew and changed with time; defined by both his decisions and his actions made throughout his life.

Maurits Cornelius Escher was born on June 17, 1898 in Leeuwarden, Netherlands (capital of Dutch province of Friesland); the youngest son of four to George Arnold Escher, a civil engineer, and Sarah Gleichman Escher, daughter of a government minister. In 1903, the Escher family moved to Arnhem. There, Escher attended both elementary school and secondary school. Though not pious, he attended a religious school at the recommendation of his parents. Escher excelled in carpentry, music, and drawing, while in all other subjects he did not. In school, he met both his lifelong friend, Bas Kist, and his first and most likely one of his most influential art teachers, F.W. van der Haagen. Both helped Escher develop his ideas and encouraged him to make his first linoleum cuts, a method of printing. After failing his final exams —never officially finishing high school-- in 1918, Escher enrolled in classes at the Higher Technical School in Delft where he would try and make up for the failed subjects. Because of his studies, Escher was able to acquire a deferment from the military. Escher, being ill from some unknown cause, was unable to keep up with the curriculum and no longer capable of military service. But still expected to follow in the footsteps of his father and become an architect, Escher enrolled in classes at the School for Architectural and Decorative Arts in Haarem. There he meets Jessurun de Mequita, an artist and professor of graphic design. Mequita saw Escher’s artistic skills and encouraged him, through the provision of workspace and ability to experiment, to drop architecture and pursue his real affinity for artistic design through the study of graphic design. Thus, M.C. Escher’s artistic career took off.

After finishing school, Escher travelled in order to find inspiration. In 1922, Escher went to Italy and Spain. There, he would sit upon roof tops and hilltops overlooking the cities and towns and sketch. He would sketch the things he saw including architecture, insects, animals, people, and plants. In Spain, he gravitated toward the Moorish (Arabic) castles in Granada. One in particular, Alhambra, influenced him the most. Escher studied the styles and format of the mosaics in Alhambra. Upon returning home to the Netherlands, Escher realized his past home would not provide the inspiration he needed for future works. From 1923-1935, Escher returned and travelled around Italy, sometimes disappearing for weeks at a time in the Italian countryside. He held his first one man show in Siena in 1923. In 1924, Escher married Jetta Umiker and they bought a house together outside of Rome. Escher then travelled with his wife and two sons around Italy. Most of his art from this time in his life was realistic in quality. For example, Bonifacio, Corsica, Coast of Amalfi, and Castrovalva are all works of Escher portraying realistic Italian cities and towns with their beautiful architecture and peripheral environment. Castrovalva is especially impressive, depicting a view from below up at beautiful mountains, valleys and clouds in Italy. He also did many pieces...
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