Challenging Reality

M.C. Escher: Challenging Reality
M.C. Escher was a master of perspective. He challenged reality, and his critics’ minds. His artwork was considered to be highly mathematical, even though Escher never had any formal training in the math or sciences. Yet artists around the still world regard his work as great. Escher was able to manipulate geometry to create illusions that were often used to tell a story. In Day and Night and Ascending and Descending, Escher illustrated daily events and their meaning by using his artistic and mathematical techniques.
In Day and Night, one of Escher’s most acclaimed pieces, the idea of transformation from basic geometric shapes was used to depict a linking together of two separate events. In the center of the woodcut he began his design with a simple square which transformed into the farmland and geese. From these geese a city, in both the day and the night, emerged. The city in the day was a mirror image of the city at night that suggested the two events were inseparable. Day and Night was particularly special because Escher eliminated all negative space. Every inch of the paper was used to illustrate an event, which aided in the idea of day and night being one.
Ascending and Descending is another well-known piece by Escher. This architectural drawing illustrated Escher’s ability to create realistic designs, or did it? If the viewer took a closer look, he would see that Escher was once again playing with perspective to tell a story symbolically. To every person (monk) walking on the castle’s roof, there seemed to be an endless amount of stairs. Yet, these stairs were completely useless. These fictitious monks were either perpetually ascending or descending hence the title. This lithograph appeared to show the mundane and useless life that was lead by a monk in this time period. Once again Escher was able to symbolically show the life of a monk through his mathematical techniques.
In contrast to both Day and Night and Ascending and Descending was a piece titled Grasshopper. This woodcut did not contain a symbolic message or tell a story of the grasshopper’s life, but rather was a still life. Here Escher’s realistic artistic ability shone. The detail that was carved into the woodcut was intense and very finely created, which proved, if not otherwise seen, that Escher could create extremely detailed and beautiful pieces of art that were completely realistic in form.
Escher’s use of intricate repeating patterns and mathematically complex structures created wonderful illusions for his viewers. However, he was able to depict realistic events with the same amount of mastery. MC Escher was, and will continue to be through his art, one of the great artists.


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