Valerie Kalfrin

Dali Museum to showcase works of M.C. Escher

Escher’s “Reptiles,” printed in 1943. / Courtesy of the The Dali

Escher’s “Reptiles,” printed in 1943. / Courtesy of the The Dali

The works of M.C. Escher challenge not only our sense of direction but reality. In detailed lithographs and woodcuts from the 1930s through the 1960s, this gifted graphic artist transforms a small town on Italy’s Amalfi Coast into a chessboard and sends water and figures along paths that seem to defy gravity.

The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg on Saturday welcomes a special exhibition of Escher’s work, featuring 135 pieces covering his entire artistic career. The exhibit is on loan from the Herakleidon Museum in Athens, Greece, and includes an array of Escher’s most recognizable works, including “Drawing Hands,” “Waterfall” and “Reptiles,” where lizards circle across a book and a cup to climb into and out of a pattern of amphibians.

Escher delights viewers with his visual sleights of hand, said Hank Hine, the Dali Museum’s executive director. “Escher, like Dali, played in a serious way with that fundamental question of visual art: What is real? Is the world as it looks to be, or have I constructed an illusion in my mind?”

Born in the Netherlands at the end of the 19th century, Maurits Cornelis Escher created more than 2,000 drawings and sketches, plus 448 lithographs, woodcuts and wood engravings, according to the artist’s official website. Although he died in 1972, his fascination with what he called “impossible constructions” continue to inspire popular culture. Even those unfamiliar with his name have seen homages to his work, such as the moving staircases of Hogwarts in the “Harry Potter” films.

This particular collection of Escher’s work has never been shown in Florida. Learn more about how Dali gave a nod to Escher in one of his works, as well as additional details about this exhibit in my article in today’s Tampa Tribune, or online here.