June 14, 2013

More Escher

        In honor of M.C. Escher's upcoming one hundred fifteenth birthday (He was born June 17, 1898) it's time to feature another batch of his wood block prints.  This time I'm going to focus on a series of landmarks and views of Delft (plus a bonus scene from Corsica.)  There's nothing surreal here, no tessellations or optical illusions, none of the visual tricks for which Escher is so famous.  There's just incredibly beautiful carving of beautifully composed scenes.
        Perhaps my favorite is this first one, in which I like the balance of pure black, pure white, and intricate texture.  Plus, the scene itself, the Oostpoort, is so romantically charming with its bridge and towers.  Some interesting carving to note is the way the entire background is made less distinct simply by carving a series of thin lines right through everything.  I think if I tried that I'd only succeed in ruining all my carefully carved background details.  But Escher, of course, is all about control.  That's
particularly visible in the sky, which is composed of precisely gradated lines.  There's no impressionistic gouging for Escher.
        Compare the skies in the other pieces: all variations on carefully controlled lines, mostly straight, or this mathematically smooth curve.  Still, although the carving may be precise, the scene isn't.  This view of a canal includes cracked or stained plaster and some sort of peeling sign in the alley.  The plants in the pots look a little scraggly.  It definitely feels like a real place.  (And I have to confess that I like that many of these views have no people.  Contrary to findings about what art people like best, I tend to prefer my scenery without people.)

                I love the blacks and whites of this church, and how it dominates the smaller buildings in the background.  I like how Escher has made the largest tree show up crisply against both black and white behind it.
                       Although there's nothing fantastical about this view of the market in Delft, the unusual perspective definitely reminds me of some of Escher's more mind-twisting work.  The light feels like early morning to me, although I'm sure if I knew Delft I'd know whether we're looking north or south.  I love the roof tiles.  I like the roof tiles in all these pieces!
        And finally, your bonus view of Corsica, done eleven years earlier than the Delft series, and definitely a little more stylized.  It's so wonderfully dramatic.
        So, Happy Birthday, M.C., and thanks for all the wonderful woodcuts!

[Pictures: Delft: Oostpoort, woodcut by M.C. Escher, 1939;
Delft: Voldersgracht, woodcut by Escher, 1939;
Delft: Nieuwe Kerk, woodcut by Escher, 1939;
Delft: Grote Markt, woodcut by Escher, 1939;
Citadel of Calvi, Corsica, woodcut by Escher, 1928 (Images from Saint Louis University).]

1 comment:

Nan said...

Oh, those were gorgeous. Thanks. And I like my art without people, too>