As a celebrated graphic artist, M.C. Escher created 448 lithographs, woodcuts and wood engravings and over 2000 drawings and sketches throughout his career.
Maurits Cornelius Escher was born on June 17, 1898. His father, a civil engineer, and his stepmother, the daughter of a government minister, raised him.
Escher did not excel in his elementary school subjects, but he did show an early interest in both music and carpentry.
As a young man in September of 1920, Escher moved to Haarlem to follow his father's wish and study architecture. He enrolled at the School for Architecture and Decorative Arts. At the school he met Samuel Jesserum de Mesquita, a graphic arts teacher, who inspired him to take a different turn in his studies.
Unlike most artists, Escher lacked natural drawing ability, and as a result, most of his pieces took a long time to complete.
Escher spent a great amount of time travelling. In 1921, Escher and his parents visited the Riviera and Italy. In April of 1922, he made a trip to Florence with two friends. Sketching and drawing absorbed much of his time while in Italy. He also spent a month traveling around Italy by himself, gathering material to use in his woodcuts.
Soon after his return from Italy, Escher departed for Spain. He was inspired by the sea and was highly entertained by the bullfights. However, the art in the Spanish museums did not impress him, so he left for Italy once again.
In August of 1923, Escher held his first one-man show in Siena. In that same month, he proposed to Jetta Umiker, and brought her back home to Zurich to meet his family.
In 1924, Escher held a solo exhibition in his native Holland, and he also spent much time traveling thoughout Europe with his new wife. During these travels, Escher was able to observe many different architectural forms.
Escher published his famous Days of Creation woodcuts in 1925.
He continued to exhibit throughout the later 20s, and became so well known by 1929, that he was able to hold five shows within the same year. The works during this period focused mainly on landscapes, as is seen with Castrovalva (1930).
By 1935, his work was also doing well in America. His print Nonza won third prize at the Exhibition of Contemporary Prints at the Art Institute of Chicago. The Art Institute also purchased the print, marking Escher's first sale to an American museum.
In 1938, Escher continued to experiment with plane-filling techniques, shapes, and transformations. One of the most beautiful and famous motifs Escher created was that of two birds flying in opposite directions entitled Day and Night.
The year 1939 marked the year Escher created one of his most important works, Metamorphosis II. He had already done a woodcut named Metamorphosis in 1937 that showed a city block transforming into a little human figure. This new series was to show a sequence of ten transformations, taking the form of the largest print he has ever produced.
In 1949, Escher adopted some new techniques. He designed tapestry and ceiling decorations.
Escher’s fame in America began to rise in the early 50s. He also gained popularity as a lecturer, and he was in great demand to speak to artistic and scientific audiences.
In 1955 and 56, Escher completed many famous prints, including the beautiful Three Worlds and distinctive Print Gallery.
Early in 1960, the first book of Escher's prints was released, Grafiek en Tekeningen, with descriptions of 76 works by Escher himself. The book made Escher recognized among mathematicians and crystallographers.
In 1970, after two surgeries, Escher’s health was too poor to complete any works. Within the next two years, his health deteriorated. M.C. Escher died on March 27, 1972 at the age of 73.