It’s No Illusion: M.C. Escher’s Mind-Bending Works Are Coming to Brooklyn

The show hopes to bring Escher's optical puzzles to life with Instagram-worthy "photo booths."

M.C. Escher, Relativity. ©2018 the M.C. Escher Company.
M.C. Escher, Relativity. ©2018 the M.C. Escher Company.

Here’s a show that’s certain to give Brooklyn some perspective: A massive exhibition of the mathematically infused artworks of M.C. Escher (1898–1972) is coming to the borough in June. “Escher. The Exhibition & Experience” includes over 200 works by the artist, from early nature and landscape works from the 1920s and ’30s to his explorations of infinity from the 1960s. The show will also include Instagram-ready photo ops that bring the artist’s optical illusions to life.

A Dutch graphic artist known for his drawings and prints of impossible, paradoxical spaces, Escher played with concepts such as infinity, reflection, and symmetry. Working at the intersection of art, mathematics, science, and poetry, Escher’s mind-bending works earned him both critical acclaim and pop-culture recognition.

Perhaps the artist’s best-known work was his 1953 lithograph Relativity, a gravity-defying composition full of impossibly interlocking stairways. The work will appear in the upcoming show, which is organized by the Italian exhibition-producing company Arthemisia in collaboration with the M.C. Escher Foundation. Mark Veldhuysen, the foundation’s longtime curator, has organized the exhibition along with Escher expert and collector Federico Giudiceandrea. The traveling exhibition has already made stops in Rome, Bologna, Milan, Singapore, Madrid, and Lisbon, welcoming over one million visitors.

“Escher was a singular artistic visionary, whose works still beguile and entrance wherever they are seen,” the curators said in a statement. “We are thrilled to bring this exhibition to New York, and to expose new audiences, young and old, to an artist whose vast influence can be felt throughout the spectrum of contemporary culture.”

M.C. Escher, <em>Metamorphosis II</em> (detail). ©2018 the M.C. Escher Company.

M.C. Escher’s Metamorphosis II (detail). ©2018 the M.C. Escher Company.

On view will be some of Escher’s most important works, such as his 13-foot-long woodcut print Metamorphosis II (1939–40), a marvel of tessellation in which motifs such as the chessboard blend seamlessly into a city skyline, a swarm of bees, and other designs.

It’s a big year for Escher in the States. An exhibition of 50 of his works, “M.C. Escher: Infinite Dimensions,” opened at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston in February, and is on view through May 28.

The Brooklyn show hopes to set itself apart with “immersive photo booths,” which bring Escher’s hypnotic environments to life. These social media-ready sets will feature incredible distortions of size and scale and use mirrors to create an infinity effect, for a selfie that never ends. A section of the exhibition will also explore Escher’s presence in pop culture, from Pink Floyd albums to postage stamps.

See more works and installations from “Escher. The Exhibition & Experience” below.

M.C. Escher, <em>Regular Division of the Plane I</em>. ©2018 the M.C. Escher Company.

M.C. Escher’s Regular Division of the Plane I. ©2018 the M.C. Escher Company.

M.C. Escher, <em>Rind</em>. ©2018 the M.C. Escher Company.

M.C. Escher’s Rind. ©2018 the M.C. Escher Company.

M.C. Escher, <em>Hand with Reflecting Sphere</em>. ©2018 the M.C. Escher Company.

M.C. Escher’s Hand with Reflecting Sphere. ©2018 the M.C. Escher Company.

An M.C. Escher Instagram moment. Photo courtesy of Arthemisia.

An M.C. Escher Instagram moment. Photo courtesy of Arthemisia.

M.C. Escher, <em>Eye</em>. ©2018 the M.C. Escher Company.

M.C. Escher’s Eye. ©2018 the M.C. Escher Company.

M.C. Escher, <em>Three Words</em>. ©2018 the M.C. Escher Company.

M.C. Escher’s Three Words. ©2018 the M.C. Escher Company.

M.C. Escher, <em>Drawing Hands</em>. ©2018 the M.C. Escher Company.

M.C. Escher’s Drawing Hands. ©2018 the M.C. Escher Company.

M.C. Escher, <em>Belvedere</em>. ©2018 the M.C. Escher Company.

M.C. Escher’s Belvedere. ©2018 the M.C. Escher Company.

M.C. Escher, <em>Up and Down</em>. ©2018 the M.C. Escher Company.

M.C. Escher’s Up and Down. ©2018 the M.C. Escher Company.

M.C. Escher, <em>Stars</em>. ©2018 the M.C. Escher Company.

M.C. Escher’s Stars. ©2018 the M.C. Escher Company.

M.C. Escher, <em>Day and Night</em>. ©2018 the M.C. Escher Company.

M.C. Escher’s Day and Night. ©2018 the M.C. Escher Company.

An M.C. Escher Instagram moment. Photo courtesy of Arthemisia.

An M.C. Escher Instagram moment. Photo courtesy of Arthemisia.

“Escher. The Exhibition & Experience”  is on view at Industry City, 34 34th Street, Building 6, Brooklyn, June 8, 2018–February 3, 2019. Tickets are $20.


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