Narrated by Stephen Fry and in Dutch and English, this film is about Dutch graphic artist Maurits Cornelis Escher will escort the viewer through the world created by the imagination of this genius. Using his own words, as the narration comes from selected passages from his notes, diaries, lectures, agendas and many, many letters.
Was born in 1898. Came from a wealthy science based family. Escher went away to school and only enjoyed his drawing class. Then he attended the Haarlem School of Architecture and Decorative Arts. A teacher there convinced him to switch major from architecture to art.
Presented as an animated film (which totally makes sense based on his art) which aptly depicts the different mathematical aspects of his artwork. Escher saw himself as a scientist before anything else. Oddly enough, he did not think of himself as a very good drawer. Always sought to improve his drawing technique. Wanting to get every detail right.
He then moved to Tuscany where he fell in love with the country and landscapes. While there he also found love. Met a Russian family and more importantly their 24-year-old daughter, Jetta. He returns to Switzerland, but still finds himself thinking of her as he works on his wood engravings.
Escher and Jetta were married in 1924. They lived in Italy for around a decade. Had two sons. They left when Escher became scared of the fascists. Moved back to Switzerland. Escher hated the snow, so he set sail for the warmer climate of Spain. The tiles in the work there made their mark upon the artist. He loved the system within them. Began to copy this in his own work.
Once again upon his return to Switzerland he decided to move, this time to Belgium. It was a time of unrest in Europe. Escher began to work a lot. He was 40-years-old at this time. His brother, a geologist, told him his work was mathematical in nature. Began to produce works attempting to depict endlessness on a finite plane. His work becomes so mathematical that he begins to wonder if it is still art.
Despite his very science based background and technique, Escher believed that man could never really draw an image as strongly as he felt it. His emotions played a part in the art he produced.
As the war broke out it was a difficult period for his family (and others). Food was scarce. Escher did not work much. Jetta becomes frail. After the war, Escher returned to work. He began to become well known and finally started making money. It was good timing as his family money had run out during the war. An interview with him in Time magazine really brought notice to his work.
In 1962, it was discovered he had colon cancer. Underwent many operations. Escher could not work very much. His wife Jetta became more and more unstable, so she was put in a nursing home in Switzerland.
His art’s influence and effect was so wide reaching that during the 60s and early 70s it influenced many a musician including Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and even the Rolling Stones. Also did not understand his influence. Saw that his works, without his permission, were reprinted on table cloths, etc. Couldn’t grasp why the youth of these decades loved his work.
We see that time has not dulled the influence of his work. Even today, some 45 years after his death, his work still lives on. More than that it continues to go strong. We see it pop up in comics, ads and movies. Exhibtions of his art still brings in lots of people. This is his story. Told in his own words.