Impossible constructions, infinite explorations, play of mirrors, motifs and interlocking geometries: the wonderful world of the artist who, more than anyone else, found a way to turn visual ambiguity into ambiguity of significance, whose seductive and enchanting drawings and lithographs, as time has gone by, have become a part of everyday and collective imagination and which have been used in the most varied way – covers of famous long playing 33 rpm records, gift boxes, stamps, Christmas and birthday cards and tiles. Escher is everywhere.
The retrospective Maurits Cornelis Escher exhibition, open from March 12 to July 19, 2015, in Bologna, is presented in an original manner, stressing aspects which have never been dealt with before, with over 150 works by the famous Dutch artist. On show are some of his most famous masterpieces, such as Hand with Reflecting Sphere, Day and Night, Möbius Strip II, House of Stairs (Relativity), Another World II, Bond of Union and the series of the Emblemata.
The influence Escher had and still has on publishing, graphics, giftware, not to mention advertising, fashion, cartoons and the cinema is little known: the rigour of his extraordinary images, invented long before computers appeared on the market, lack nothing of what can be done today using the most sophisticated digital techniques. The greatness of a genius can also be measured by how he can influence other artists and society around him. Escher’s lesson has shown that, though he had no direct disciples, he fully fits these two parameters.
The Beat Generation soon fell in love with Escher’s creations, especially in America, “stealing” his art to print it on T-shirts and posters, using the psychedelic colours then in fashion and provoking the rage of the artist who therefore set up the Escher Foundation which, still today, protects his rights. So his etchings ended up on the covers of LPs, as they used to call the 33 rpm records made by the great pop music bands, not always with the approval of the artist. Mick Jagger’s failure to publish Verbum on the cover of the last Rolling Stones LP – which was supposed to have been launched in early 1969 with the title Let it Bleed – is well known.
A whole section of the exhibition is devoted to what may rightly be called “Eschermania”, and tells how even today, people of every social background – the curious, the mathematically minded, eccentrics and the transgressive, and all those artists who never met him personally but drew inspiration for their work from him – are increasingly and profoundly fascinated by Escher’s kaleidoscopic world. There exists in fact a long sequence of imitators who have “learned” the “Escher method” and produced variations on the theme. These range from the American commercial artist David Hop to the French artist Dominique Ribault who has recently used the tessellation method also for his three-dimensional sculptures, to the German artist Hans Kuiper who employs computer-based techniques to reproduce works by famous 20th century artists, starting with Escher.
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