M. C. Escher (1898-1972), the famous Dutch print artist, was active for six decades in Italy, Switzerland, Belgium and Holland. His career coincided with turbulent, revolutionary years in European history. The works he created reflect his implicit, yet firm reactions to the historic events he witnessed, and his desire to understand the secrets of cosmic order. Escher sought to create in his works a different, aesthetic and highly organized world.
Contemplating Escher's prints, we often try to decipher the visual puzzles they present. Yet an in-depth perusal of his oeuvre reveals his critical view of human nature and society. At the same time, his works reflect an enduring interest in various scientific questions, which Escher studied intuitively through their graphic portrayal. He investigated, for example, the problem of tiling a surface (tessellation), which he put into sharper perspective in tessellations of convex and concave bodies. Other tiling works play on the boundary between pattern and background, or seek to create a cosmic order stretching to infinity.
Escher was a master of the print, excelling in the different printing techniques and making full use of the advantages they afford. The unique style he developed is based on stark black and white contrasts and clear, precise lines. With these elements he created complex, fascinating structures that change and evolve, some of which are physically impossible.
Undoubtedly, Escher's works present some awe-inspiring technical achievements, which sometimes "steal the show." Yet for him, making prints was just a means in his search for order and regularity in nature and in the human world. Despite his deep engagement with graphic techniques and his awareness of the challenges they present, and despite the extraordinary proficiency he achieved, Escher was not entirely caught up in the material charms of his art, seeing it rather as a means of expressing his ideas and not as a goal in itself.
The exhibition includes Escher's best works, all from the collection of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem. The works were donated by Attorney Charles Kramer of New York, who was an enthusiastic art collector, and his family. Thanks to the generosity of the Kramer family, we are now able to enjoy the wealth of Escher's art and follow the development of his style and the themes that engaged his interest.
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