Local Heart, Global Soul

February 4, 2014

With The Frog Or The Bird’s Eye Perspective: Italy Makes An Impression…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’m continuing my yesterday’s post where I am detailing some of  Dutch artist M.C. Escher’s early works, may of which were done in Italy, a country Escher fell in love with and later moved to until his conflict with the ideas of Fascism forced him to move with his family to Switzerland, then Belgium and then back to The Netherlands.

One of the information boards in the Escher Museum located in the former winter palace of Queen Regent Emma of the Netherlands, on the Lange Voorhout in The Hague tells me:

Early in his career, Escher experimented with perspective by choosing an unusually high or low vantage point to draw from. The mountains in Italy were perfectly suited to this. For “San Gimignano”, “Bonifacio”and “Temple of Segesta”, he selected an extremely low vantage point, from a valley. As a result the viewer looks up at an object located far above. This is known as “the frog’s perspective”.

In other works Escher chose a very high vantage point, for example in “Morano”, “Ravello”and “Calvi”, the fishing town seen from the citadel. In these prints the viewer looks down at the subject of the work. This is known at as the “Bird’s eye perspective”.

Escher never used the “panoramic view” so popular with other artists at the time. When in 1939 Escher made prints of Delft commissioned by the Dutch Government, he climbed up the tower of the Nieuwe Kerk to show the marketplace from a dizzying perspective.

The viewer’s eye is led downwards rather than out towards the broad surroundings.

In Escher’s time (more specifically, between 1920 and 1940), many European artists played with extreme forms of perspective. Giorgio de Chirico in Italy, Carel Willink in the Netherlands and Ludwig Kirchner in Germany had been using perspective as a stylistic tool since 1910. but their most predecessor was Giovanni Battista Piranesi, who in the 18th Century portrayed spaces using the most bizarre perspectives. 

Personally I think that Italy and the early works Escher did there, and the discovery of  the possibilities  that these altered perspectives offered, heavily influenced Escher’s later works for which he became world famous: the seemingly  “impossible” ascending and descending staircases and waterfalls and the transitional spaces works like “water and air” where fish become birds and visa versa.

Certainly it may be disputed that Escher didn’t always stick strictly to reality, but in fact I have found that as a general rule most artists don’t… it’s impossible to see every twig and blade of grass in a landscape, real world “litter”  in the broader sense of inconvenient  buildings, people, or the distractions of everyday items are often left out of compositions for cleaner lines, better perspective, balance, light, mood or colour. In a way I love these earlier works even more than the more famous later ones because they document the source of inspiration and reveal that Escher’s genius about “thinking outside the box” was a quirky personality trait present right from the start.

I love quirky and I adore detail… this won’t be my last visit here…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

“Temple of Segesta, Sicily”, 1932 (wood engraving) Note: the block in printing is always opposite to the final printed image of the first photo in this post.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

“Pineta of Calvi, Corsica”, 1933 (woodcut in light grey, dark grey and black, printed from three blocks)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

“Study for Atrani, Coast of Amalfi”,1931 (black chalk,pencil)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Study for “Atrani, Coast of Amalfi”,1931 (black chalk, pencil)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

“Calvi, the Fishing Town seen from the Citadel, Corsica”, 1933 (wood-engraving)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

“Nocturnal Rome: Basilica of Constantine”, 1934 (woodcut)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

“Delft, Nieuwe Kerk”, 1939 (woodcut)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

“Delft, Roofs”, 1939 (woodcut)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

“Inside St. Peters’ 1935, (wood engraving)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

“Venice”, 1936 (woodcut)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

“Venice”, 1936 (woodcut) Detail…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

“Porta Maria dell’ Ospidale, Ravello”, 1932 (wood engraving)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

“La Mezquita, Córdoba”, 1936 (black and white chalk)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

“Coast of Amalfi” (composition) 1934, (woodcut)

http://www.escherinhetpaleis.nl/

1 Comment »

  1. The one called “Inside St. Peters’”…WOW! LOVE IT!

    Comment by Carrie — February 6, 2014 @ 12:16 am | Reply


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