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Escher Exhibition: Fantastic Survey of MC Escher's Art, in Brooklyn

Ellen Levitt

Posted on January 20, 2019 21:15

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M.C. Escher, the masterful and amazing graphic artist known for his astonishing prints, is the subject of an exhibition now held at Industry City in western Brooklyn, New York

M.C. Escher, known for his fantastical prints and illustrations filled with mind-boggling distortions of reality, is the subject of a career survey at Industry City in Brooklyn, New York. This collection of prints, sketches and interactive art is a fascinating mélange of art, mathematics, architecture and optical illusions. Appropriate for all ages, the artwork displayed here is an astonishing collection that will spur your interest in art, geometry, perspective, literary and biblical themes, patterns in nature, and more.

Escher was a Dutch graphic artist whose work is often perplexing and unsettling, and is best appreciated by multiple examination. When you first gaze at many of these illustrations and woodcuts, you will notice certain aspects. Repeated study brings out more bizarre details, humorous touches, and other surprises. 

The exhibit is designed partially in chronological order, to show his development and the influences that shaped his work (especially his travels in Italy and Spain, his nature trips, and more) and there are also several pieces that are not necessarily optical illusions but straight-forward, beautiful illustrations and studies of animals, plants and architecture.

Some of Escher's best known pieces are included in this exhibition, such as Tower of Babel, Drawing Hands, Puddle, Relativity, and the lovely Three Worlds. There are also opportunities for visitors to "place" themselves in his Self-Portrait in Spherical Mirror. There is an infinity room and a Perspective Room, and a few other interactive treats. 

A touching, compact section of the exhibit near the beginning includes works by his teacher Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita,  a Dutch Sephardic Jew who was killed at Auschwitz during the Holocaust. Seeing his works just a week before International Holocaust Remembrance Day was a sobering note; his output is largely forgotten today, and deserving of more attention. 

Escher's works explore geometry, perspective, tessellation, perspective, and unnerving orders of reality. At times I felt dizzy while looking at certain pieces, and had to turn away. But it was heartening to see children and adults of various ages walking through the exhibition, enjoying themselves and discussing what they saw. My younger daughter, who studies art in high school, was particularly fascinated by the variety of printmaking techniques (woodcuts, lithographs, linoleum prints, etc.) which Escher employed.

An interesting aspect of the Escher exhibition is its location; not in a traditional museum, but in the old-new complex known as Industry City. It is a collection of buildings that once served largely as industrial warehouses but has now been largely refurbished and devoted to mixed use (light industry, art studios, as well as eateries and special events). It is in the western edge of Brooklyn and not far from the old Brooklyn Army Terminal. 

I had first learned of Escher's work when I was a teenager, and have long been intrigued by his playful, multi-leveled works. Although at times the exhibition was a bit overwhelming, it was a fascinating show and highly enjoyable. Escher was a unique artist, a magician at times, a creative genius. 

Ellen Levitt

Posted on January 20, 2019 21:15

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Source: Dezeen

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