Do you know there was an astonishing artist who explored the inclusive ideas of mathematics in his paintings – today we are going to talk about Maurits Cornelis Escher, who was born in Leeuwarden, Holland in 1898, created unique and fascinating works of art that explore and exhibit a wide range of mathematical ideas.
While Escher was still in school his family planned for him to follow his father's career of
architecture, but poor grades and an aptitude for drawing and design eventually led him to a career in the graphic arts. His work went almost unnoticed until the 1950's, but by 1956 he had given his first important exhibition, was written up in Time magazine, and acquired a world-wide reputation.
Among his greatest admirers were mathematicians, who recognized in his work an extraordinary visualization of mathematical principles. This was the more remarkable in that Escher had no formal mathematics training beyond secondary school.
As his work developed, he drew great inspiration from the mathematical ideas he read about, often working directly from structures in plane and projective geometry, and eventually capturing the essence of non-Euclidean geometries, as we will see below. He was also fascinated with paradox and "impossible" figures, and used an idea of Roger Penrose's to develop many intriguing works of art. Thus, for the student of mathematics, Escher's work encompasses two broad areas: the geometry of space, and what we may call the logic of space.
Escher received the third prize at the Exhibition of Contemporary Prints at the Art Institute of Chicago, for his print ‘Nonza’, which was later purchased by the Institute - his first print sale to an American museum. In 1955, he was bestowed with the Knighthood of the Order of Orange Nassau from the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Some of Escher’s greatest work that explores great mathematical ideas:
Polyhedra: The regular solids, known as polyhedra, held a special fascination for Escher. He made them the subject of many of his works and included them as secondary elements in a great many more.
The logic of space: By the "logic" of space we mean those spatial relations among physical objects which are necessary, and which when violated result in visual paradoxes, sometimes called optical illusions. Escher understood that the geometry of space determines its logic, and likewise the logic of space often determines its geometry. One of the features of the logic of space which he often applied is the play of light and shadow on concave and convex objects. In the lithograph Cube with Ribbons, the bumps on the bands are our visual clue to how they are intertwined with the cube.