Museum of Fine Arts, Houston draws up world premiere of mind-bending M.C. Escher exhibit

Largest and most comprehensive exhibition of works by Escher ever held

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"You have to retain a sense of wonder, that’s what it’s all about.” So believed Maurits Cornelis Escher, otherwise known as the mind-bending Dutch artist M.C. Escher. In March, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston will let Texans wander into Escher’s wonder in the world premiere exhibition, “Virtual Realities: The Art of M.C. Escher from the Michael S. Sachs Collection.”

Organized by the MFAH from from the collection of Michael S. Sachs, “Virtual Realities” will be the largest and most comprehensive exhibition of works by Escher ever held, and will include more than 400 prints, drawings, watercolors, printed fabrics, constructed objects, wood and linoleum blocks, lithographic stones, sketchbooks, and the artist’s working tools.

“Escher is an artist who defies characterization,” describes MFAH director Gary Tinterow in a statement about the exhibition. “His singular, sometimes unsettling works, with their orchestration of multi-dimensional alternate realities, have rightfully become icons of the 20th century.”

Michael S. Sachs gathered works for over 50 years and ended up acquiring ninety percent of the Escher estate in 1980. With so many selections from the Sachs collection, “Virtual Realities” will offer MFAH visitors an expansive survey of Escher’s artistic life. The exhibition will chronicle Escher’s evolution from realistic depictions of the world to iconic artist revered for his trippy, physics-defying worlds of the imagination.

Beginning with an overview of Escher’s early focus in the 1920s and 30s on Italian landscapes and the architecture of Italian cities, “Virtual Realities” will follow his artistic practice as Escher began to play with images of metamorphism and works that appear to break through space and time dimensions.

“By spanning Escher’s entire career, this extraordinary exhibition explores Escher’s detailed thought process,” explains Dena M, Woodall, MFAH curator of prints and drawings. “It reveals, in a way, the magic behind the final prints, with the inclusion of preparatory drawings and progressive printing proofs as evidence of his working process. His meticulous manner extends to printing all of his woodcuts by hand with the back of a spoon, instead of a press.”

The exhibition will also explore Escher’s ability to connect art with mathematics and science. The MFAH will present lectures in June to enhance that exploration, with discussions of Escher’s interest in mathematics, psychology and crystallography.

December 09, 2022
Michael MK

Michael MK
Senior Editor & Writer

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