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The Magic of M. C. Escher Hardcover – October 1, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams; 1st edition (October 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810967200
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810967205
  • Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 0.9 x 12.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #648,942 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Price on August 30, 2000
Not only is this is the most beautiful book on Escher ever published, it is one of the most beautiful books I've seen about ANY artist, period! Every page is filled with breathtaking reproductions of Escher's magical prints and drawings, and a dozen pages fold out to double or quadruple size. Every page is a complex layout of images. There are even beautiful color prints on the BACKSIDE of the dustjacket! Many of these illustrations have never been published before, therefore even someone throughly familiar with Escher's remarkable works will find many new images to delight, amaze, and educate the viewer. Erik The, the designer of this book, has created a masterpiece by juxtaposing drawings, printing blocks, text and finsihed prints in ways that create new insights into some of the most challenging art of the twentieth century. The book is far more visual than literary, and yet most of the exerpts from Escher's letters and writings are, once again, previously unpublished and endlessly fascinating. If I had to choose only one Escher book to introduce someone to his art, this would certainly be the perfect choice. If I could add one book to an art-lovers or scholar's bookshelf, this would be my choice once again. I am impressed that the publisher could create such a high-quality book at such a modest price. You will be amazed both by the artwork and by the presentation in this landmark publication.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By PronghornRunner on December 7, 2000
I have been a long time fan of Herr Escher. Although I own a few prints of his, I had never experienced his work completely until I opened this book. Quite simply, the skill and perspective that this man possesed still puts me in awe. This is a very detailed collection of his works, and includes many sketches and studies for individual works. Another important facet of this publication is the numberous quotes through-out the book. It is facinating to stare at the pictures, but the facination climbs to a new level when one can read the writer's commentary on the specific work, art or life in general. I recommend this book highly. It provides the best collection of Escher between two covers, that I have seen to date.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By kaisersosay on April 21, 2005
Almost cinematic in design and construction, truly, "The Magic of M.C. Escher" is a breakthrough book on the works of this artist. Every page is filled with inspiration and surprise. Designed by a gifted art director named Erik The' and produced by Andreas Landshoff, this book flows together to form a loving catalogue of Mr. Escher's visions. It is unlike other books based on Escher which tend to be either tutorial or biographical in nature. Whereas these past books, more or less, deconstruct and analyze his works mainly through words, "The Magic of M.C. Escher" successfully accomplishes this through the images themselves, revelling in their sheer beauty, from his preliminary studies all the way to the finished prints. There are many double foldout pages to better impact Escher's mastery of his craft. Some of the pages are filled, corner to corner, with extremely detailed, magnified sections of specific works that allow the reader to closely experience what it's like to be "nose to nose" with the actual prints.

This book catapults the reader into Escher's world immediately. Before you even open the title page, you discover that the inside of the dust cover reproduces, in full color, of course, "Metamorphosis III" in three horizontal panels each measuring an astounding 39" across. This book brings us along on a visual journey ajoined by Escher's own words, as if he is personally giving us insights on a guided tour of his works. It thoughtfully limits itself to short excerpts from Escher's lectures and letters whose sole purpose is to compliment glorious, detailed photographs of original work. It's filled with Escher's never-before published pencil studies and sketches, extreme closeups of his prints, and detailed photographs of his original carved wood blocks.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By AML on June 30, 2002
Escher was a Dutch wanna-be mathematician, who expressed himself through incredibly intricate, creative works of art. This book contains hundreds of his drawing as well as his notebook sketches, which is interesting to look at because you get to see how he developed his drawings. Accompanying most of the pictures in this book are excerpts of letters that he wrote to various people. If you want a book on Escher's work, then this is the one to buy! Fantastic.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Hasnor Lot on October 6, 2002
Given as a gift by a special friend of mine, the book has always adorned the coffee table in the living room as a centerpiece that never fails to attract the attention of both art lovers and art dabblers alike. Perhaps it could be said that my interest in the two seemingly disparate field of mathematics and art motivated that friend of mine to purchase the book, as Escher himself apparently believed and proved that those two seemingly unrelated fields could be beautifully synthesized in a brilliant fusion of creativity. The result is more than convincing.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 28, 2001
For all M. C. Escher fans out there, this is truly a must have. No other book describes the techniques of an artist better than this one, and the commentaries by Escher himself make it even better. A must have!!!
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