Everyone recognises the work of Maurits Cornelius Escher, though they might not recognise the name. Better known as M. C. Escher the Dutch graphic artist was a master of impossible staircases that startle our eyes and worlds that fold in on each other to flummox our brains.
If you’ve ever seen the penultimate scene in the movie The Labyrinth (My all time favourite film BTW) then you’ve seen into the mind of Escher. In a world of every-which-way staircases and corridors, Jareth – David Bowie with hair as improbable as the scenario – navigates with ease, a world of twisted physics that confounds our, and our heroine’s, earthly expectations. The impossible staircases are copied directly from Escher.
I have to admit that I had no idea Escher was Dutch until I was recommended the museum of his work by a friend when I innocently asked what there was to do in The Hague, south of Amsterdam. I’m very glad I did so.
With an hour left until closing I made it to museum, which is generously situated in what was once the Winter Palace of The Netherlands’ Queen Mother Emma.
Of interest is the fact that this is the only former palace in The Netherlands to now be a public building, so you get to stickybeak around the halls of old Dutch royalty while appreciating the exceptional work of Escher.
Escher primarily worked in the medium of woodcuts, and the museum tracks his evolution as an artist, displaying versions of nearly every one of his prints. It is an impressive and compelling collection that never becomes tedious; rather it keeps throwing up greater and greater surprises as his works continues to find new and exquisite ways of testing the limits of our perception.
Though never educated as a mathematician, his understanding of it was intuitive, and the result of tireless visual experimentation. Even four decades after his death he is still respected by of many of the world’s mathematicians for his understanding of the concept of symmetry, tessellation and his ability to visually express the grandeur of infinity using only two dimensions.
I challenge anyone to not be amazed at the skill and wonder of his images.
Below is a short gallery. Short so that you have to go and to see the rest of them them for yourself.
Escher in het Palace
Lange Voorhout 74, The Hague, The Netherlands.
Open Tuesday to Sunday 11:00 – 17:00
Children (7-15): €6.50
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