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/

February 3, 2014

Take A Stone, or Wood, Ink And Paper: And Create More Than The Sum Of The Parts…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’m continuing my series of blog posts about M.C. Escher and the permanent exhibition that’s located on the Lange Voorhout in The Hague, The Netherlands in the former winter palace of Queen regent Emma of the Netherlands.

I visited here in the summer of 2012 with visiting Singaporean friend “Velvetine” and together we are enjoying both Escher’s works and the beautiful palace they are house in.

There are a few information boards placed around the exhibition and from them I find out:

M.C. Escher was a graphic artist, specialising in woodcuts and lithographs. Woodcuts are made by cutting a design into a block of wood, lithographs by drawing an image on a specially treated flat stone. A woodcut is a form of relief printing: a gouge is used to carve out parts of a wood block leaving a raised image. Ink is applied to these raised parts and then a sheet of paper is pressed onto the inked block. A lithograph is a form of flat or offset printing: the ink is applied to the flat stone and paper then placed on top.

Escher and the natural world: From early on nature played an important role in Escher’s work.

In itself this is unsurprising: young artists base their work on what they see around them and nature has traditionally been one of the first subjects to present itself. Escher’s family always lived in a relatively rural setting. He was born in Leeuwarden and his parents moved to Arnhem when he was four years old. 

Between 1921 and 1935 he made long trips every year through a remote part of Italy, the country he eventually moved to in 1925, The Italian landscape and nature in general continued to captivate him all his life. As his graphic work shows, Escher was an attentive observer, yet every one of this landscapes gives rise to the question of whether it corresponds to reality.

As early as 1940, Escher’s friend, the art critic Hein ‘s Gravensande remarked that Escher synthesised what he saw, he meant that Escher cheated just a little when making a print.

That last line made me smile:  after all what artist doesn’t use a little “artistic licence”? Transposing a creative idea onto a flat piece of canvas, paper or other medium is a difficult enough task,  and we all see the world in our own way. Capturing that view in a limited space and in a few lines is a daunting task,  carving it into a block of wood is far harder then it looks, the beauty is that in the finished print we can see the essence of that Escher wants us to see… it’s more than paper, wood and ink… it’s amazing.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

“Witte poes” (White cat) 1910, Woodcut.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

“Lichtende zee”  (Phosphorescent sea) 1933, Lithograph.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

“Zonnebloemen” (Sunflowers) 1918, Linoleum cut.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

“Het Paradijs” (Paradise) 1921, Woodcut, counterproof. ( …very much reminds me of Henri Rousseau’s work)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

“Drie werelden” (Three worlds) 1955, Lithograph

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

February 2, 2014

With The Flick Of A Switch: A Glittering Array Of Artworks…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In this post about our 2012 summer visit to the M.C. Escher Museum in the Hague, I was surprised to see that this is actually a sort of exhibition within an exhibition, within a Palace that’s an exhibit in itself.

The main draw cards are naturally the Escher works, and then the Palace in which they are displayed but here there is added value for your entry fee because the chandeliers in many of the rooms are also works of art in their own right. Wikipedia tells me:

In the rooms of the museum are fifteen chandeliers made by the Rotterdam artist Hans van Bentem.

The artist designed these especially for the museum, with some references to the work of Escher and the Palace. In the ballroom, a star chandelier is endlessly reflected in the two mirrors. In other rooms there are chandeliers such as a shark, a skull, a spider, and a sea horse.    Ok, I’ll have to admit that I’m no fan of spiders, especially big ones and they don’t really come bigger than this, but credit where it’s due, these really are impressive.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I tried getting an ïnfinity” sort of photograph of the book and star chandeliers reflected in the two mirrors but mostly only succeeded in getting myself in the frame too, over and over and over…

The other difficulty was that the rooms were never completely empty anyway so there were always other people in the photographs and clearly to  succeed I needed a tripod, a remote cable to take the photographs,  rooms sans tourists and talent enough to make amazing photos of the reflections  after that.

Since I lacked all four items for success I did my best with two shots, one on an angle showing the tops of fellow tourists heads (but not my own) and another taken at a right angle showing the star chandelier with the mirrors on the walls either side of it.

It’s as good as I can get it and on this day that will have to do.  This ended up being a long photographic post because these chandeliers really made my creative juices sparkle, spider and all…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escher_Museum

http://www.escherinhetpaleis.nl/

February 1, 2014

It’s All A Matter Of Perspective…


(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Another page from my diary documenting our travels and adventures both at home and abroad.

In this post from summer of 2012 I’m visiting the M.C. Escher exhibition on the Lange Voorhout in the Hague, The Netherlands.

Escher wasn’t a very good student academically speaking, but  excelled in drawing,  this area of the exhibition deals with his works that trick the brain into thinking they are real and the devices that Escher used to achieve these illusions.

There are a few information boards around the exhibition, This one tells us:

Space is a flexible concept in the work of M.C. Escher. In addition to compelling sight lines as in “Castrovalva”, he combined still lifes with reflection or panorama to create impossible situations, often so cunningly that it is not immediately obvious that something strange is happening in the print.

In “Still Life With Mirror” and “Still Life and Street”,  Escher created what he called “impossible situations”: different spaces that run seamlessly into one another.

In Still Life with Mirror he brings the street outside into the room through the reflection in the mirror on the dressing table. He disguises this impossible transition by reflecting object in the foreground, like the toothbrush, toothpaste and glass, in the street scene.

In this way he combines the perspective of the room with that of the street.

In the slightly tilted mirror the transition fome inside to outside is barely noticeable.  In Still Life and Street” the table in the foreground runs imperceptibly into another Italian Street.  Here too, you have to look twice to see what is happening.

In another website the author makes a very insightful point…

M.C. Escher is a remarkable artist because he had both the mathematical as well as artistic abilities to create optical illusions and other mind provoking pictures.  He belonged to no art movement of the time, although he was in touch with what was happening in mathematics, showing he was more conscience of the mathematics in his work than he was with the art itself.  With this being a possibility, perhaps M.C. Escher was more of a mathematician than he was an artist.

Personally I’d prefer to modify this idea : Rather than being more of a mathermation than an artist, I think he was an artist who’s most major influence and passion was maths. Mathematics drove him, and just like any artist who has an intense passion for a particular subject, evidence of that passion  will leak out of the soul of all of the artist’s works in style, form, composition, colour, mood and message.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

https://sites.google.com/a/saintannsny.org/peerpoints-vol-4/m-c-escher

http://www.escherinhetpaleis.nl/

February 14, 2011

Defying Logic and making the Impossible Appear Possible.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The last of the Sand Sculptures deserves it’s own post because it is made up of three of the artists works… and for many people the style is instantly recognisable because the artist is:

Maurits Cornelis Escher (1898-1972)

Better known as “M.C. Escher” is certainly the most famous Dutch Artist of the recent past. Escher was a graphic designer most well known for this woodcuts, mezzotints and lithographs which feature seemingly impossible constructions based on mathematical formulations.

Maurits Cornelis, nicknamed “Mauk”  was born in Leeuwarden but in 1903 the family moved to Arnhem. A sickly child he struggled academically, excelling only in drawing. He studied carpentry, piano and architecture briefly, before switching to decorative arts.

In 1922 Escher travelled though Italy and Spain, then back to Italy with wife Jetta Umiker,  who he married in 1924. and they lived in Rome until 1935 when the deteriorating political climate under Mussolini forced a move to Switzerland.

However Escher wasn’t happy in Switzerland and the family moved to Ukkel (Belgium) until  events during the Second World War forced them to move again in January 1941, to Baarn, back in The Netherlands.

Most of his better known works were produced here and he lived in Baarn until 1970, before entering Rosa Spier House in Laren which was a retirement home for artists (complete with his own studio). He died in Rosa Spier on 27 March 1972,  aged 73.

The  Sand Sculpture incorporates three of his well known works:

Waterfall (1961) is a Lithograph that appears to show water falling in front of a waterwheel, going underneath it, logically running uphill.before falling in front of it again. This paradox is achieved by taking advantage of  quirks of human perception and perspective.

Wikipedia tells us:

The aqueduct begins at the waterwheel and flows behind it. The walls of the aqueduct step downward, suggesting that it slopes downhill. The aqueduct turns sharply three times, first to the left, then straight forward and finally to the left again. The viewer looks down at the scene diagonally, which means that from the viewer’s perspective the aqueduct appears to be slanted upward.

The viewer is also looking across the scene diagonally from the lower right, which means that from the viewer’s perspective the two left-hand turns are directly in line with each other, while the waterwheel, the forward turn and the end of the aqueduct are all in line.

The second left-hand turn is supported by pillars from the first, while the other two corners are supported by a tower of pillars that begins at the waterwheel. The water falls off the edge of the aqueduct and over the waterwheel in an infinite cycle.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Reptielen (Reptiles) (1943)

Escher made several different reptile prints. the most famous of which, depicts a desk on which is a drawing of a tessellated pattern of reptiles. The reptiles come to life and crawl around the desk and over the objects on it to eventually re-enter the drawing.

The reptiles in the sand sculpture are not an exact replica of the 1943  “Reptielen” so must belong to some of the other ones, although I couldn’t find exactly which one.

“Wentelteefje” (Curl-Up) (1951)

This is the only work by Escher which consists largely of text. The text, which is written in Dutch, describes an imaginary species called “Pedalternorotandomovens centroculatus articulosus”, also known as “wentelteefje” or “rolpens”. He says this creature came into existence because of the absence in nature of wheel shaped, living creatures with the ability to roll themselves forward.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The creature is elongated and armored with several keratinized joints. It has six legs, each with what appears to be a human foot.

It has a disc-shaped head with a parrot-like beak and eyes on stalks on either side.

It can either crawl over a variety of terrain with its six legs or press its beak to the ground and roll into a wheel shape.

It can then roll, gaining acceleration by pushing with its legs. On slopes it can tuck its legs in and roll freely. This rolling can end in one of two ways; by abruptly unrolling in motion, which leaves the creature belly-up, or by braking to a stop with its legs and slowly unrolling backwards.

The word wentelteefje is Dutch for French toast, “wentel” meaning “to turn over”. Rolpens is a dish made with chopped meat wrapped in a roll and then fired or baked. “Een pens” means “belly”, often used in the phrase beer-belly.

There is a diagonal gap through the text containing an illustration showing the step by step process of the creature rolling into a wheel.

This creature appears in two more prints completed later the same month, ‘House of Stairs”  and “House of Stairs II.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curl-up

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reptiles_%28M._C._Escher%29

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waterfall_%28M._C._Escher%29

Whilst we are on a more modernist theme there was another sand sculpture, but the name of the artist I really don’t know…  if anyone knows the title and/or the artist then I’d be very pleased to hear from you… and so with this little mystery I conclude my Sand Series photos but  my admiration for these amazing Sand Sculpture artists remains. Stunning,  wouldn’t you agree?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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