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Pictures at an (Escher) Exhibition


The enigmatic Dutch artist M.C. Escher is probably best-known for his perspective-distorting lithographs and engravings, in which logical but impossible connections allow water to flow uphill and objects to be at the same time inside and outside a building. I've always enjoyed those works.

But at a recent exhibition of a lifetime of his works, we got to see more aspects of his work, and how his fascination with geometric and mathematical aspects of art developed. The exhibition, in a recycled warehouse on Brooklyn's waterfront, runs through February 3, 2019.

Although the geometry-defying drawings, and the tesselations in which patterns repeat and morph, filling entire spaces, are there, I was most drawn this time to some of his early works, and to two installations that let us interact with an Escher work.

20181030_15175420181030_151811These two images, made while Escher was still in his 20s, still show the precision and detail that remained a hallmark throughout his career.

20181030_15271820181030_152736But our view of Escher is so focused on the tricky that it's hard to remember it wasn't there at the start. Like quite a few others, I searched for it here, in work from his first visits to Rome in the 1920s.

Above, an interior at St Peter's and below, a view between St Peters and the Sistine Chapel.

The wondrous corridor of columns also has no tricks, unless you count a mirror image. It was fun to place myself in the view...20181030_15224620181030_152440Perhaps this is where it all started. Escher once wrote: "When I was a young boy, I lived in an eighteenth-century house in Amsterdam. In one of the main rooms there were 'trompe l'oeil' decorations above the doors. These works looked so three-dimensional that they could be mistaken for real marble reliefs, a trick, an illusion that always astonished me."


Escher's 'Hand with Reflecting Ball' was recreated as an interactive, allowing me to 'step into the picture' again.

20181030_161113Here's where George G spotted Gumbo at the Escher exhibit, after first considering Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirror as the site.

And, can't leave without a favorite: Drawing Hands.

Drawing Hands


Images (13)
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  • 20181030_161113
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  • Drawing Hands
  • hand-with-reflecting-sphere

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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