Captivating yet confusing, the mathematically inspired work of Dutch graphic artist Maurits Cornelis Escher has permeated the fields of science, art, and popular culture. MC Escher synthesized images created in his own mind with theoretical and original research into tessellation and geometry, to produce mosaic-like woodcuts, lithographs, and mezzotints. TASCHEN has reproduced Escher’s illustrations and working drawings in books that demonstrate his uniquely intuitive and visual understanding of mathematics.
As an ill child MC Escher excelled at drawing, a pursuit where his imagination could move beyond the confines of his sick bed. Initially he was drawn to nature and explored the beginnings of his life-long interest in mathematical structure in the forms of Mother Earth, such as insects, plants, and lichens. As a young man he travelled in Italy and Spain and was inspired by the landscapes around him. He sketched the buildings, townscapes, architecture, and tilings he discovered, including those of the Alhambra and the Mezquita of Cordoba. Echoes of these structures are present in some of his most famous drawings, in which hyperbolic geometry and tessellation result in impossible objects and inescapable illusions.
TASCHEN’s art books on Escher combine his graphic work and biography in titles that offer a scientific and psychological challenge much greater than a typical coffee table book. The magic of Escher’s work lies in the different layers of reality that he conjures and his gift of giving visual form to the enigma of infinity. Most of us will never master the mathematical objects and operations that Escher’s idols, like the mathematicians George Pólya, Roger Penrose, and Harold Coxeter, understood. But MC Escher’s world of puzzles and problems gives us creative access to some of the principles of reflection, symmetry, and perspective; providing a key to the labyrinthine corridors of math and an allegory for the maze of the human mind.