M.C. Escher At The MFA Boston
M.C. Escher was a skilled print-maker who produced amazing works of art that experimented with space and time, geometry, artistic composition, playing around with values in a drawing, capturing reflection, and so much more. This particular Escher exhibit is the first exhibition of its kind in a Boston museum featuring original prints and drawings. The exhibit consisted of over 50 of Escher's masterpieces, most of which were under-appreciated by the mainstream art world. I even learned that M.C. stands for Maurits Cornelis Escher. Escher loved Tessellations, arrangements on a two-dimensional surface of shapes that interlock without gaps or overlapping. The majority of Escher's prints are woodcuts, which he preferred for the art he was personally creating.
In the artwork "Day and Night" shown above, Escher explores the balance between two dimensional and three dimensional forms. The black and white birds in his woodcut are flying in opposite directions, morphing into a landscape below. Escher plays with the ideas of symmetry and contrast. The right and left sides of the paper are mirror images of each other. The white birds appear over a nighttime landscape, and the black birds appear over a daytime landscape.
For those interested: A Lithograph is printed from a flat surface, most often stone, where the artist would draw on stone with a greasy crayon. The stone after being treated so that the crayon will work with the printing ink on it and the stone surface is kept wet to repel the ink. A Woodcut is a relief print where the artist carves into a wooden block to create areas that are raised that will hold the ink that will be printed. A Linocut is a relief print made by gouging and cutting a piece of linoleum, then inking it, and printing it. Linocuts are preferred when printing flat areas of color since the linoleum has no grain as compared to wood. Some of Escher's works are Mezzotints, which is a labor intensive process, so Escher stopped doing it soon after starting it!
Shown here above, are two studies for "Drawing Hands" (shown below), completed around 1948 with graphite pencil. It's fascinating to see how these hands are drawing one another into existence. The two hands are in a never-ending state of drawing and appear to be bringing life to the other. On a technical note, it's very cool to see how Escher depicts the tendons and veins of the hand with only slight changes of value in light and dark.
In the Self-Portrait shown above, it's interesting to note that it is a very serious drawing that has a tremendous amount of detail in it. However, there are a lot of abstract elements in this Self-Portrait such as his wavy hair.
Many of Escher's works of art focused on impossible structures. They are akin to optical illusions, where the buildings seem to violate the laws of gravity and physics.
The theme of Reflection appears often in Escher's work. Below the distorted perspective of a room is captured in the reflection of a silver sphere. And shown below, in "Eye" he captures the reflection of a skull.
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