M.C. Escher, the artist who lived from 1898 to 1972, suffers from horrible overexposure. Who hasn't seen the college dorm room posters, postcards, T-shirts, and coffee mugs of such well-worn images as a hand drawing another hand or gothic buildings with never-ending staircases? The mass reproduction of these images has carved a firm place in our popular culture, yet made the work dismissible as modern art. Beyond the familiar images, though, is an immense body of work. The Magic of M.C. Escher
covers in depth the graphic illustrations, woodcuts, and lithographs of Escher's career. The artist has always attracted the attention of scientists, mathematicians, and teenage boys everywhere; the popular 1980s game Dungeons & Dragons seems to borrow heavily from the systematic yet mystical quality of his drawing style. With his amazingly repetitive graphic illustration and unflinchingly control of size, shape, and shading, Escher draws like a human computer. One can only wonder what he might have done with today's graphic tools.
The book itself is creatively put together, with foldouts, seemingly endless images, and a loving introduction by the director of the Gemeentemuseum in the Hague. The minimal text selections that appear throughout are quotes from Escher himself, many taken from letters to family members. These personal musings give candid insight into what he thought about his peers, his career, and his work: "I really do feel these days like a kind of 'specialist,' and I don't want to 'depend' on my specialty alone, but I also feel it to be my duty to devote myself to that as much as possible." This remarkable book is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the astounding work of the man who could create two-dimensional origami with a pencil. --J.P. Cohen
From School Library Journal
Adult/High School-This marvelous book is a must for any collection containing works about art and artistic temperament. Not only does it present the wonderfully visionary drawings, paintings, and woodcuts for which Escher is so widely known, but it also includes excerpts from his writings. J. L. Locher, director of the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague, provides the overview for the volume. Beautiful, full-color foldout copies exhibit some of Escher's most mesmerizing and intriguing works: Metamorphosis II, Day and Night, Up and Down, and Magic Mirror, to name a few. Many of the studies for these works are also included and demonstrate the planned, logical, and mathematical plane upon which Escher's fascinating conundrums are based. The two-page displays for Spirals and Mobius Strip II (Red Ants) are excellent cases in point. The book is filled with magical drawings created throughout the artist's career. Letters to family and friends and parts of lectures given by Escher describe the way he saw the world, his life, and his body of works. He "wandered in enigmas"; was bored by the right-angled boxes forced on mankind by gravity, "our tyrant"; and felt unsure of the "existence of a real, objective space." Even those who claim disinterest in art will find themselves drawn into Escher's exciting, inexplicable, virtual world.-Carol DeAngelo, Kings Park Library, Burke, VA
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