Ascending and Descending


Maurits Cornelis Escher (1898 – 1972), or M.C. Escher, was a Dutch graphic artist from the Netherlands who created over 448 lithographs, woodcuts and engravings and over 2000 drawings.


Day and Night

Day and Night by M.C. Escher. 1938 Woodcut. Image courtesy of the M.C. Escher Company B.V.


Most likely you’ve been awe-struck by one of Escher’s mind-boggling “impossible constructions”. Despite his lack of mathematical ability, much of Escher’s work plays with our understanding of reality, exploring ideas of perspective, infinity, topology, geometry, recursion, tessellations, symmetry and impossible objects.



Relativity by M.C. Escher.1953 Lithograph. Image courtesy of the M.C. Escher Company B.V.

Like many of his creative predecessors, Escher was a high school dropout until he was eventually admitted into Haarlem’s School of Architecture and Decorative Arts to train as an architect before changing fields to graphic arts with the encouragement of one of his teachers.


Development 1

Development I by M.C. Escher. 1937 Woodcut. Image courtesy of the M.C. Escher Company B.V.

Escher often traveled to Italy to sketch the landscapes and buildings to form the basis of various prints he created later. His first visit to the Alhambra, a fourteenth-century Moorish castle near Granada, Spain, inspired him to study the beautiful tilings, which informed his work on tessellations (Division of the Plane).


The following video is a short interview with Escher about his life and work while he constructs the Eye, a 1946 mezzotint.