M. C. Escher




M.C. Escher was a Dutch graphic artist, most recognized for spatial
illusions, impossible buildings, repeating geometric patterns
and his incredible techniques in woodcutting and lithography.
He was a man studied and greatly appreciated by respected
mathematicians, scientists and crystallographers. Yet he had no
formal training in maths nor science. He was a humble man who
considered himself neither as an artist nor as a mathematician.
His work continues to fascinate both young and old across
a broad spectrum of interests.
Intricate repeating patterns, mathematically complex structures,
spacial perspectives all require a "second look".
In Escher's work, what you see the first time is most certainly
not all there is to see.








When Escher made his works of art, he always followed certain themes

For example :

The infinite


The impossible





1899 June 17

Maurits Cornelius Escher is born in Leeuwarden. He is the third son of G.A.

Escher, an engineer, and his second wife, a government minister's daughter.

He is born in the house which later becomes the Princessehof Museum.


Escher completes his first graphic work, a linoleum cut in purple of his father,

G.A. Escher.

The source for the first half of Escher's life was the diary of his father.


Education : Escher attends the School for Architecture and Decorative Arts in

Haarlem; he takes lessons from S. Jessurun de Mesquita, a vitally important

figure in Escher's life and work.

1924 June 12

Escher and Jetta Umiker, the daughter of a Swiss industrialist, are married.

1965 March

Escher is awarded the cultural prize of the city of Hilversum.

1969 July

Escher makes his last graphic work, a woodcut, 'Snakes'.


A film about Escher is shown at the Osaka World Fair

1972 March 27

Escher dies at the age of 73, in the hospital in Hilversum, after a long time

of sickness. He had 3 children, all sons.






The regular division of the plane



This last one made Escher famous and because 137 of his 448 works are

built up like this, w'll explain the working method on the basis of this drawing.

1. This is the very beginning. As you can see everything is grey.

2. There are drawn two systems of parallel lines, which form the basic division of the plane.

3.+ 4. The appearing parallelograms will form the network for the figures. The parallelograms are either white or black coloured.

5.+6. In this figure, the further evolution of the forms is shown.

7.+8. As we can see, the figures have taken now fast forms. The created figures are mostly fishes or birds. Here we have black birds against a white background.

9. But you can also do it the other way around.

10. All the different figures get their function. (The background disappears)

11. Here we have black and white fishes, but the figures can be interpreted also otherwise, because in the black forms are birds whereas the white figures present fishes.


Escher didn't come up with his ideas out of nothing.
His most used inspiration sources were :

- The structure of the plane.

- The structure of space.

- The relationship between these two elements.

- The repetition of geometric patterns.

Before the working-out of his woodcuts, he always tried them out first on paper.




  • For example :

    to Arnhem (Holland)
    to Rome (Italy)
    to Switserland
    to Brussels (Belgium)
    to Baarn (Holland),...

    In Baarn he gets lots of inspiration from the castle and the woods around it.





  • For example : - Highschool of Den Haag - Postoffice - ....

    There is no general agreement if Escher's work is art or mathematics. Some critics say it's art because of the high-aesthetical value. Others say it's mathematics because he used methods of crystallography for the construction.

    Even Escher himself didn't know the answer....




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