Jump to content

If Escher Was An Ironworker

Recommended Posts

Escher was a great technical artist, with a fair understanding of mathematics, but an even more subtle understanding of modern philosophy.




He understood that a representation of a state of affairs in a medium (e.g. 2-dimensional art), while obeying all the rules of that medium, need not represent any aspect of reality.


A similar thing was noticed by Ludwig Wittgenstein and the philosophers that came after and worked in the area of philosophy of language. WVO Quine came up with this wonderful and completely grammatical sentence: "I have a pain in your knee."


Like an Escher print, it follows the rules of language (i.e. grammar), but does not represent an aspect of reality.


This following Escher image, however, does. It's an example of a Moebius strip, which is a one-sided surface.



Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Old Mack said:

He probably did a lot of LSD !


He probably did not. (Possibly peyote. Read to the bottom of this post for that.) Here's a link to the Wikipedia page for LSD.


You'll find that the psychoactive effects were only discovered in 1943 by the person who synthesized it, Albert Hofmann, a scientist working at Sandoz. It only started to become widely known in the early 60s.


M. C. Escher died in 1972. Much of his work was done before the effects of LSD were known.


The work you posted was made in 1956, which you can learn from this page. (So it's unlikely that Escher took LSD as an influence.) It is an example of tesselation, defined as "an arrangement of shapes closely fitted together, especially of polygons in a repeated pattern without gaps or overlapping". It's also a joke Escher liked making, because there's a kind of gecko called Diplodactylus Tessellatus = the tessellated gecko. He was fascinated by tesselation a early on, 1922, having seen the Muslim architecture at the Alhambra in Spain. Muslims have traditionally been great at geometric art because, in some interpretations of their religious rules, they are forbidden to make representations of people or animals.


This picture of his, below, was done in 1943. You might make some druggie inference out of the packet of Job rolling papers, but Escher was actually Dutch, so a more likely explanation is that they're for Drum tobacco. I imagine the bottle in the lower right is for some strong alcoholic drink. The little round cactus could possibly be a peyote cactus. Some research into that would be sensible.



Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Old Mack said:

He probably did a lot of LSD !



The lizard represents man, emerging from pure concept in two dimensions, becoming a three dimensional being, groping through life acquiring knowledge and wisdom, arriving at deep understanding of science and sacred geometric principals and the nature of reality and existence, and finally descending to reunion. In this theory the objects around the edge of the drawing are signals of the stages of emergence (cactus, biological life), the beginning of the fire-quest for knowledge (rolling papers), contemplation and distillation (a jug and partially consumed glass of spirits), deep study, understanding and wisdom (the open well-used notebook), and re-integration (matches and cigarettes symbolizing controlled/civilized fire that nonetheless consumes and returns the physical to the abstract).


That's one interpretation:

However, I have to say, it does bear a striking resemblance to this Dutchman's coffee table on a Saturday morning.//

Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, bludog said:

Hanging in my hall is a framed print of that painting. 


In the early 80s I had a framed print of that, in the first apartment I rented on my own without co-tenants. Thanks for the memory. 😊 I was very happy there.  Kitty corner to the Snowdon subway station, across the street from a major grocery, loads of fancy food stores and restaurants in easy walking distance... a student's dream apartment.


My neighbors didn't care about my loud music, and there was a bookstore downstairs.


The only drawback: roaches.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...