M. C. Escher
I first became aware of Escher when I recognised the impossible staircases from the final scene of Labyrinth  (David Bowie’s finest acting foray) on a poster in a maths classroom at school. A feeble attempt to make maths seem like fun? Yes. But national curriculum aside, to omit this Dutch graphic artist from a blog about tessellation would be remiss.
Escher explored mathematical relationships among shapes, figures and space in his graphic art. Incorporated into his prints were all manor of geometric shapes; cones, spheres, cubes, rings, spirals and mirror images. Additionally, he explored complex interlocking and tessellating figures in monochrome palettes to enhance their different dimensions.
Escher’s Relativity series were inspired by a series of 16 prints by the Italian artist Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720 - 1778) of prisons in Rome. Indeed the similarities are quite apparent, both sharing an element of Kafkaesque fantasy.
Carceri by Piranesi, 1745
Relativity by Escher, 1953
The final stair case scene from Labyrinth that is inspired so heavily by Escher’s Relativity series, together with more awesome Bowie, can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufrCIwNk1zc
- Maurits Cornelis Escher born in Leeuwarden (Netherlands) in 1898
- Escher failed his high school exams
- During his lifetime Escher made 448 lithographs, woodcuts and wood engravings and over 2000 drawings and sketches
- M.C. Escher was a graphic artist who also illustrated books, designed tapestries, murals and postage stamps
- He met his wife Jetta Umiker while travelling around Italy, they married in 1924
- Their son, Giorgio Arnaldo Escher, was born in Rome and named after Escher’s father
- Escher died in 1972 in Laren (Netherlands)
Truly the god father of tessellation, Escher’s work is enjoyed today by artists, scientists, mathematicians and anyone who ever spent their maths lessons colouring in the squared paper at the back of their exercise book.
Footnote: And or any Henson, Bowie or JenCon fans - you can enjoy the Dance Magic Dance here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjoYzLBp34o