"His work features mathematical objects and operations including impossible objects, explorations of infinity, reflection, symmetry, perspective, truncated and stellated polyhedra, hyperbolic geometry, and tessellations.
"Early in his career, he drew inspiration from nature, making studies of insects, landscapes, and plants such as lichens, all of which he used as details in his artworks. He traveled in Italy and Spain, sketching buildings, townscapes, architecture and the tilings of the Alhambra and the Mezquita of Cordoba, and became steadily more interested in their mathematical structure.
"Escher's work is inescapably mathematical. This has caused a disconnect between his full-on popular fame and the lack of esteem with which he has been viewed in the art world. His originality and mastery of graphic techniques are respected, but his works have been thought too intellectual and insufficiently lyrical.
"In his early years, Escher sketched landscapes and nature. He also sketched insects such as ants, bees, grasshoppers, and mantises, which appeared frequently in his later work. His early love of Roman and Italian landscapes and of nature created an interest in tessellation.
"Although Escher did not have mathematical training—his understanding of mathematics was largely visual and intuitive—his art had a strong mathematical component, and several of the worlds that he drew were built around impossible objects. After 1924, Escher turned to sketching landscapes in Italy and Corsica with irregular perspectives that are impossible in natural form.
"Escher often incorporated three-dimensional objects such as the Platonic solids such as spheres, tetrahedrons, and cubes into his works, as well as mathematical objects such as cylinders and stellated polyhedra.
"Escher's special way of thinking and rich graphics have had a continuous influence in mathematics and art, as well as in popular culture."
Below are six works of art that M.C. Escher created and what Olivia remembered about them after studying them for a while.
Woodcut, February 1952
- In the picture, there's a puddle and tracks from cars and people and maybe some bikes.
- The mud looks like it is a few days old. It looks like it has had a few days to dry and isn't super wet.
- The reason I say that it has had a few days to dry, because the tracks are very defined - you can see how the mud has squished up into the tires and into the different patterns of the tires.
- The puddle - you can see the reflection of trees in the puddle. You can see some pine trees and a deciduous tree that has kept some of its leaves or has fruit on it.
- You can see some spiky things on it - some type of flower or prickly fruit.
- The people's tracks - the ones on the right side - are walking in one direction and the other set is walking in the other direction.
- You can tell there's a dip in the ground, you can see the tracks of the car go down, then the puddle, and then back up.
- In the upper left hand corner you can see his signature.
- Mostly blacks and light brown or tan and then a white or grayish white are in the picture. There are no bright colors in it.
- You can see where water has seeped into some of the footprints.
- It must be nighttime (because of the moon). The moon is really well hidden. It is a full moon.
Lithograph and Watercolor, June 1952
- It's interesting. At first glance, it looks like a five-pointed star. You know how you cut out a star, then place another five-pointed star on that. Then there's another point sticking out of that. So, it's like a 12-pointed star.
- All of the points have four sides and on each of the four sides you have a little window.
- Sticking out of the windows - a head and three or four limbs. It's interesting because some of the limbs have claws or fingers - I don't know what to call them - and with the ones that have five, there isn't an opposable thumb. The finger is right next to the other ones.
- Some of them only have three toes.
- The colors of these strange animals that have a head that looks like a long-necked dinosaur or the Loch Ness monster are green, yellow, blue, red, orange, and like a magenta or purple.
- The animals kind of look like they are trapped within the points and their limbs are sticking out of the windows.
- They are all kind of bent - like how you would bend your knee. Like you are in a crab-walk position. The hands are kind of like that too.
- The faces have an eye that is on the side of their head - they are not predators, they would be prey animals.
- They have a wavy line on the side of their face and below that would be where their mouth opens.
- The star looks like it is made out of metal and looks like it is a gray metal. Could be steel.
- In the picture, there is a scroll and starting at the bottom of the scroll, part of it is still rolled up, and you can see triangles. There are three dark ones and four lighter ones. The light ones are inverted so they fit in between.
- This pattern is repeated except as you go up, the triangles look less triangular and they have more wavy sides.
- The third row, they look like poop emojis except without the face.
- As you keep going up, the triangles are starting to become birds.
- As you keep going up, the birds become more detailed.
- At the very top, there is a lot of detail in them.
- You can tell that these birds are looking in different directions - some are looking to the left and some are looking to the right. You can see that especially in the top row.
- It's black and white, but the parchment is like a cream color almost and a hint of that is mixed in with the gray.
- You kind of wonder if the rest of scroll would have the normal triangles.
- The birds are slowly becoming free from the standard triangle. You can see the change taking place in it.
Lithograph, December 1955
- In the picture, it looks like there is a lake or pond and the season is Fall because there are a bunch of leaves on the lake.
- The leaves look like they come from an oak, maple, and birch tree.
- Beneath the surface of the water, you can see a fish. He's a big fish, but he's close enough to the surface that you can see his eyes, individual scales, and his whiskers.
- Further in the back of the picture, you can see three trees and their reflection in the water.
- The entire picture is done in black and white, and you can see the gray tone - where the white meets the black.
- The leaves at the front of the picture have a lot of detail in them.
- I think the meaning of the picture is that you have one world that is right beneath the surface, then you have one at the surface level (where the leaves and fish are), and then you have the trees - and because the trees reach towards the sky, it is saying the third world is the sky.
- The trees are bare and don't have any leaves because they have all fallen down. You only see the reflection of the trees.
- It looks like it is during the day, you don't see any reflection of the sun or moon. You can just tell it is much lighter - either the morning or daytime, or early evening.
Lithograph, October 1961
According to Wikipedia, "The two towers of Waterfall's impossible building are topped with compound polyhedra, one a compound of three cubes, the other a stellated rhombic dodecahedron now known as Escher's solid."
- Very interesting picture. This picture has a house as the main feature and part of the house is a watermill. The other half looks like it is the actual living part of it. There looks like there's a patio wit ha person outside hanging up laundry.
- This house looks like it is built in a mini-crevice or canyon because there are doors and stairs that go down.
- This house looks like it is meant to be under water. There is a garden that looks like it is full of sea coral.
- The waterfall in this feature that looks like it goes down, but it is pumped back up to keep the waterfall going.
- The parts where the corners meet is like an archway with four pillars. These are like the connection points.
- The top of these arches are made out of brick and it looks like they have some nice detail to them.
- The background looks like it is on a cliff with seating that looks natural or a really big amphitheater where someone tried to cut out benches, but didn't do a good job with keeping them all even.
- In between these seating arrangements, there are like gardens and plants, so it makes it look like this little area was under water.
- It has a black and white theme with a hint of tan or light brown.
- On top of the towers, there is a boxy pointy thing that looks like an important piece of something.
- You don't see any actual doors, you just see the archways that are rounded.
- The windows are just the normal square or rectangle shape.
Lithograph, July 1953
- This is the kind of picture that you have to turn every which way to make sense of it.
- It's interesting because there is a person on almost every single staircase.
- It's interesting because you can kind of follow where the stairs go and where they connect. There are other ones that connect, but you aren't sure how they connect.
- There's one person who is carrying a pot and it looks like there is either a plant or water in it.
- There's another person who has a tray and it looks like it came from serving a couple at a table, and he has a champagne or wine bottle on it.
- These people look like they aren't wearing a lot of clothes, but they don't have faces.
- There are a couple of people who are just sitting - one is sitting on a bench and another person who is taking a break on the stairs.
- There is one person who is coming up the stairs and there is a sack over his shoulders.
- This entire picture looks like it was done with a pen.
- It kind of looks like a medieval castle set-up because you have the wooden doors and stone arches.
- The entire picture is black and white with gray.
- His artist signature is at the upper left-hand corner.
- There are balconies and patios, and there is a garden on one side, and a restaurant with an outside dining area.
- You have where a couple is walking, there is a tree by them and it looks like made out of coral.
- There is a staircase that leads up and then it has an arch at the top of it. Above the arch is another staircase.