Inscrutable and enigmatic M.C. Escher, the artist who drew the staircases of your dreams before you dreamt them, would have turned 115 on this day, June 17th, 2013.
In many ways, Escher lived an artist’s storybook life – a sickly child who did poorly in school and seemed to have little hope of achieving independence … save for a passion for design. He made several attempts at finding his niche in the field of architecture before shifting his focus to “decorative arts” at the urging of his mentor, Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita.
At age 24, Escher set out for the territories on a European backpacking trip that would change his life. He was terrible at school and didn’t know a lick of math, but he had an incredible eye for geometry and patterns. A visit to the Alhambra in Granada, Spain, would prove to be a catalyst for many of his future works.
In fact, it didn’t take long at all for Escher’s European vacation to bear fruit. His first recorded attempt at artistic work came the same year he set out on the road, in 1922, and by the following year was already holding one-man shows to display his mind-bending designs.
Unlike 99.999999% of all artists, Escher was getting paid modest sums for his work less than two years after he started putting pencil to paper. In 1926, when his first son was born, both King Emmanuel and Mussolini attended the boy’s christening – you know you’ve hit it big when fascist dictators start showing up at your parties.
To his credit, though, Escher was no fan of fascism and he high-tailed it out of Italy in 1935 to set up camp in Switzerland. Living among the Alps really didn’t melt his butter, though, so he took his family to Belgium in 1937, and then on to Baarn, Netherlands, in 1941.
<strong>Dutch Knighthood, Death</strong>
Escher’s popularity grew throughout the 40s and 50s in Europe as well as America and beyond. He was highly prolific and it was during this time that he produced many of his most famous works, including <a title="M.C. Escher's "Relativity" " href="http://www.atgstores.com/framed-art/amanti-art-dsw114006-m-c-escher-relativity-framed-art_g964510.html?isku=7579278&term=escher&linkloc=searchProductItemsImage" target="_blank">“Relativity”</a> and <a title="M.C. Escher's "Drawing Hands"" href="http://www.atgstores.com/framed-art/frames-by-mail-e26bt-rm-framed-escher-print-drawing-hands_g1241841.html?isku=9231848&term=escher&linkloc=searchProductItemsImage" target="_blank">“Drawing Hands.”</a>
In 1955, Escher was inducted into the Order of Orange-Nassau and knighted in the Netherlands by Queen Juliana. In Escher’s own words in a letter to his son, Arthur, he asked, “… did you ever imagine that your dad, who lives so far away from the bustle and intrigue of the world, working on his prints day after day like a hermit, would some day [sic] be drawn into the sickening scene of vain officialdom, despite himself?”
Escher’s later years were plagued by illness caused by an unspecified form of cancer, and he passed away in 1972 in the Netherlands. He left us with 448 lithographs, woodcuts and engravings, and more than 2,000 drawings and sketches – and we thank him for it.
Happy birthday, Mr. Escher, from <a title="ATG Stores Homepage" href="http://www.atgstores.com/default.aspx" target="_blank">ATGStores.com</a>.