When you think of art, you rarely think of advanced mathematics—those things just don’t sit together. It’s like the idiom of oil and water or the age-old high school clique caste system of nerds and art outcasts; those opposites just don’t mesh. And while some of those thoughts have validity (oil and water), others are socially-constructed. Yet, well-known Dutch artist M.C. Escher manages to intertwine both hemispheres of the left and right brain with unabashed confidence and sincerity, solidifying his artistry as one defined by meticulous angles and illusionary shapes coated in grim reality and imagination. With over 319 exhibitions spanning his lifetime (and many posthumous exhibits), the work of M.C. Escher currently resides at the Chrysler Museum. Courtesy of the Paul and Belinda Firos collection, M.C. Escher: Infinite Variations will be showcased at the Chrysler throughout the summer until August 28th. Organized by the Pan Art Connections, the exhibition will consist of more than 150 works, including some of his most famous creations such as the renowned 1938, Day and Night, and 1960, Ascending and Descending.
Escher was no stranger to swimming against the current of expectations, frequently teetering between the contrived realms of black and white thinking and perspectives of what is considered “art.” Despite being ostracized in the art world, Escher got his “flowers,” so to speak, with many in the science and mathematics community revering the otherworldly accuracy and mesmerizing magnitude his work invoked upon those who laid their eyes upon it. Working under the geometry of space, Escher would regularly incorporate tessellations, or patterns of shapes, into his compositions. 1959’s Fish and Scales and 1937’s Metamorphose I exude Escher’s lifelong interest in regular and irregular tessellations, which he labeled “metamorphoses.” Other geometrical figures frequently seen in Escher’s work include the polyhedra, which consists of “Platonic solids”: the tetrahedron, cube, octahedron, dodecahedron, and icosahedron. Many of these works are in woodcut pieces and engravings like the 1948 Study for Stars and1953 Concentric Rinds.
Praise was also met in other communities during the 60s as the counterculture began to grow in the crevices of America’s New York East Village and San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury to the nooks of London’s Ladbroke Grove and Notting Hill. Such praise came from counterculture enthusiasts and musicians like Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones, enamored by the enigmatic, “psychedelic” nature of Escher’s works. One of his most famous compositions, Ascending and Descending, is a subtle commentary on the ritualistic role humans in society buy into with the hopes of reaching the top and being the best of the best. Despite their efforts, these humans continue to climb up the stairs unknowingly (or perhaps even sadder, knowingly) into a void of achieving unfulfilled instant gratification. In that same image, two individuals can be seen not participating in the said ritual, portraying people as free of will, thought, and conformity.
Escher was someone who embraced seeing differently, ready to express with full conviction what resided in his heart. So, with that, I leave a poignant quote that sums up his life, work, and ardor for living authentically, even if that means going against the grain.
“It is in the nature of people to want to exchange ideas with each other. And I believe that, basically, every artist wants nothing more than to tell his fellow people what he has in mind. With all expressions of art, whether it is music, literature or visual arts, it is first and foremost a matter of: communicating to the outside world and make sensory perceptible a personal thought, a striking idea or an inner emotion.” – M.C. Escher
Jasmine Rodriguez is a culture and music enthusiast based out of Virginia. When she's not writing for music blogs, you can find her working on her latest themed playlists, scouring for more new music, and taking pictures of her friends and life around her.