MC Escher: 10 Things You Should Know About The Artist of Impossible Worlds

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His artwork has been reproduced countless times in pop culture and you’ve probably seen it somewhere even if you have never heard of MC Escher. Maurits Cornelis Escher was an artist with a unique perspective and a keen sense of geometry and mathematics which he used to create impossible worlds and three-dimensional optical illusions. Despite the popularity of his artwork, very few know about the artist himself. Here are 10 interesting facts about M.C. Escher:

1. Maurits Cornelis Escher was the youngest of his civil-engineer father’s five sons. All four of Escher’s brothers were scientists; He was the only member of his family to pursue art professionally.

2. As a child, he failed his final school exams, except for mathematics. His parents sent him to the Haarlem School of Architecture to become an architect. One of his teachers, Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita, a well known graphic artist was influential in Escher’s decision to abandon architecture

Samuel_Jessurun_de_Mesquita_-_self-portrait_dated_1900
Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita – Self Portrait

3. Escher was inspired by Islamic art. In 1922 Escher visited Alhambra for the first time, a fourteen century Moorish castle in Granada, Spain. Alhambra had a great influence on Escher’s work and he later himself said that his visit to Spain was an eye-opener. He believed that repetitive patterns of Islamic art indicated a higher source of knowledge that existed before mankind

Alhambra Architecture Granada Arabic Andalusia
Alhambra, Granada Spain – Islamic Architecture

4.Despite being one of the world’s most famous graphic artists he was never accepted within the realm of fine art. There is just one work by M.C. Escher in all of Britain’s galleries and museums: the woodcut “Day and Night”.

Escher_Day_and_Night_woodcut_1938
Escher “Day and Night” woodcut 1938

5. Escher was admired mainly by mathematicians and scientists. His artwork was featured by Martin Gardner in his April 1966 Mathematical Games column in Scientific American.

6. It took Escher more than 30 years to earn enough from his work to properly support himself. He relied on his parents who helped him financially.

7. He eventually found global fame when he was discovered by the hippy counterculture of the 1960s who considered him a pioneer of psychedelic art.

8. His first retrospective was held in The Hague in 1968, when he was 70 years old, just three years before his death.

9. On January 1, 1969, Mick Jagger wrote to Escher referring to him as “Maurits” while asking for permission to use one of his pictures on the cover of the Rolling Stones’ album “Through the Past Darkly”. Escher refused, informing the rock star’s assistant: “Please tell Mr. Jagger I am not Maurits to him.” Jagger wasn’t the first celebrity of the time to get turned down by Escher. In 1965, Escher also turned down Stanley Kubrick’s request for help on a “fourth-dimensional film”.

“Please tell Mr. Jagger I am not Maurits to him.”

10. Some of his pictures did appear on album covers, including The Scaffold’s L the P and Mott the Hoople’s eponymous debut.

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Mott the Hoople’s Debut Album Cover

 

 

 

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