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Drawing Hands

Artist: M.C Escher
Created: 1948
Dimensions (cm): 33.2 x 28.2
Format: Lithograph
Location: National Gallery of Art, Washington, USA

Drawing Hands

“Only those who attempt the absurd will achieve the impossible. I think it's in my basement... let me go upstairs and check.” – M.C. Escher

Maurits Cornelis Escher, better known as M.C. Escher, created his remarkable lithograph ‘Drawing Hands’ in 1948, after returning to Holland. The picture is a truly unique display of a three-dimensional geometric art work of incredible precision and skill. An artist’s piece of paper is fastened down to a base with drawing pins - the right hand is attempting to finish drawing the shirt cuff of the left arm while the left hand is busy completing the identical task. The arms, wrists, and cuffs of this drawing are a simple sketch, but as the hands emerge from the picture as though crossing from the threshold of fantasy to reality, the picture adopts a completely different perspective. Not only does Escher’s talent excel in his ability to draw a perfect hand, as though it were a photograph, but he also offers the viewer a sense of “living hands”, a feat unique to M.C. Escher. No other artist known in history has been able to turn a drawing such as ‘Drawing Hands’ into such geometric and perceptive perplexities.


“After Escher had said goodbye to the south [in 1936], his work took a direction that was eventually to lead to his becoming famous. From now on he was no longer concerned with expressing his observations - or only rarely - but rather with the construction of the images in his own mind. These images dealt with the regular division of the plane, limitless space, rings and spirals in space, mirror images, inversion, polyhedrons, relativities, the conflict between the flat and the spatial and impossible constructions.” - Excerpt from the book entitled “M.C. Escher, His Life and Complete Graphic Work”.

‘Drawing Hands’ by M.C. Escher is currently located at the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, U.S.A.


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