8 Heads, M.C. Escher
Regarded as the “Father” of Modern Tessellations.
- Maurits Cornelis Escher was born in Leeuwwarden Holland June 17th, 1898, the youngest of 4 brothers. His father was a civil engineer and moved the family to Arnhem where M.C. grew up. During highschool his art teacher noticed that M.C. has a liking for pen and ink drawings. He started making linocuts which is a printmaking technique, a variant of woodcutting, where a sheet of linoleum is used for the relief surface and a design is cut into the linoleum and used almost like a large stamp to make a print. After failing his school exams, the best known graphic artist at the time Roland Holtz, suggested Escher become an architect. In 1918 Escher enrolled in “The School for Architecture and Decorative Arts” and stayed until 1922. This is where Escher met up with Mesquita and where he developed his woodcutting technique. In 1922 Escher produced “8 Heads” not a true tessellation but a glimpse of what was to come. In the same year, Escher took a trip to Spain where he first saw the Alhambra and where he first copied the tiling patterns. At the end of his trip he visited Italy where he met his wife and started a family and stayed in Rome until 1938. While in Rome, Escher made some of his most popular landscapes, many are viewed in different angles and perspectives.
- In 1925 he produced his first true tessellation “Lions”; a block print of lions in which the subjects interlocked and covered the plane. He then printed in on silk in gold and silver, sadly people were not impressed. In 1933 he visited the Alhambra again and filled notebooks with drawings and turned the ideas into tessellations. Then he started to draw them deliberately, producing camel, squirrel, and bird tessellations.
- In 1937 he had the chance to speak with his brother about the similarities between his work and the crystalline structures in the papers his brother had read about. He then heard about Professor George Polya who laid out 17 possible wallpaper designs. Escher was able to utilize these patterns to fill notebooks with sketches. He also found a paper by Professor F. Haag discussing he division of the plane with drawings and notations. Again this sparked an interest for Escher and he fill countless numbers of notebooks with ideas. Escher then created his own “Layman’s Theory” and classified all of his works created after on.
- In the following years, Escher created his most famous art works but always came back to plane filling and tessellation. His last tessellation was a solution to a puzzle sent to him by Roger Penrose, a mathematician.
- Escher dies in a home specifically for old artists in March 27th 1972. In total he produced 448 woodcuts, linocuts, and lithos and over 2000 drawings.