Mind-Bending Escher Exhibition at the Currier Museum of Art Reveals Impossible Realities this fall

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M.C. Escher: Reality and Illusion opens on September 20, 2014, at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, N.H. The Currier’s Escher retrospective is one of the largest and most comprehensive ever offered in the United States.

The Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, NH, has announced that one the largest ever exhibits of work by M.C. Escher will be on display this fall. M.C. Escher: Reality and Illusion, will run through January 5, 2015, at the Currier and will be one of the most comprehensive shows of his work ever offered in the United States.

M.C. Escher (1898-1972) is best known for intricate geometric drawings and prints of spaces that can only exist on paper and in the viewer’s mind. His familiar images continue to boggle the eye and the brain, captivating viewers more than 40 years after his death. In Escher’s world, stairways are built upside-down, water runs uphill and every object is reproduced with mathematical precision. This exclusive New England presentation will contain not only his best-known works of art but also rarely-exhibited early drawings of family members, panoramic drawings of exotic landscapes and historic architecture, original preparatory sketches and mezzotints, and one of the lithographic stones he used to print a later work.

“Escher’s work is appealing on so many levels,” said Kurt Sundstrom, exhibition curator. “The images are realistic but visually challenging, accessible but elusive, and entertaining but serious. That’s why his work appeals as much to the general public as it does to art scholars and mathematicians.”

About the Exhibition
M.C. Escher: Reality and Illusion includes more than 180 original Escher prints and drawings from throughout his career. The works of art are presented chronologically across three gallery spaces. The first gallery features Escher’s earliest, and perhaps least known, works in a section called Landscapes and Cityscapes. The second gallery showcases Escher’s explorations into tessellation, infinity and depth, and includes his enormous woodcut Metamorphosis (1939-40), which spans 13 1/2 feet in length. The final gallery reveals Escher’s Impossible Worlds, including two of his most popular and recognizable works, Waterfall (1961) and Relativity (1953).

The exhibition features several interactive learning opportunities for the whole family. Visitors can explore how tessellations work, or create perspective-bending, Escher-inspired self-portraits.

About M.C. Escher
Born in Leeuwarden, Holland, Maurits Cornelis Escher was the youngest of five brothers. He loved the arts from an early age and made his first linocuts (designs cut into slabs of linoleum) at the age of 18. Three years later, he made his first woodcuts and by 1922 he provided woodcut illustrations for a friend’s book.

From the early 1920s through 1936, Escher traveled throughout southern Europe drawing landscapes, but his two visits to the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain, in 1922 and 1936 proved transformative. The abstract interlocking decorative patterns on the floors and walls in the palace captivated Escher. He decided to exploit that idea but instead incorporated recognizable human and animal forms in his tessellations.

When he and his family returned to Holland in 1941, his art was much more inspired by ideas in his mind such as: mirror images, multiple dimensions, infinity and impossible constructions. Although he was never trained in science and mathematics, the works of mathematician George Polya and books about crystallography fascinated Escher. He applied these studies to draw worlds of astounding symmetry and complexity. “It is…a pleasure knowingly to mix up two- and three-dimensionalities…to make fun of gravity,” said Escher. “Are you really sure that a floor can’t also be a ceiling? Are you definitely convinced that you will be on a higher plane when you walk up a staircase?"

Escher was heavily influenced by the work of Oscar Reutersvärd, a Swedish artist whose impossible figures were equally mind-bending. However, while Reutersvärd’s subjects were pure shapes, Escher pushed the boundaries further with his inhabited worlds. Drawings such as Relativity (1953), Waterfall (1961) and Ascending and Descending (1960) were clearly inspired by Reutersvärd.

Exhibition Support
The Currier’s presentation of the exhibition and related educational programs are sponsored by TD Charitable Foundation and TD Bank; Dyn; The Badger Fund and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation; and by individual support from Dwight and Susi Churchill and Barbara and Thomas Putnam.

Escher-inspired programs are supported by the Nashua Arts & Sciences Fund and the Ruth and James Ewing Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and the Netherland-America Foundation.

The exhibition is from the collection of the Herakleidon Museum, Athens, Greece, http://www.herakleidon-art.gr.

The Currier Museum of Art, located at 150 Ash Street, Manchester, N.H., is open every day except Tuesday. It is home to an internationally respected collection of European and American paintings, decorative arts, photographs, and sculpture, including works by Picasso, Matisse, Monet, and O'Keeffe. Visitors of all ages will enjoy the engaging exhibitions, the dynamic programs ranging from art-making and lectures to music, a Museum Shop, and an airy, light-filled café. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the museum. The Currier welcomes visitors with disabilities and special needs. We are wheelchair accessible and offer FM headsets for sound amplification at many public programs. For more information, visit http://www.currier.org or call 603.669.6144, x108.

The Currier Art Center, celebrating its 75th year of operations, offers studio classes, art camps, Master classes and intensive workshops for all ages. The museum also owns the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Zimmerman House, complete with the original furnishings and the owners' fine art collection.

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Steve Konick
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