50 Works in M. C. Escher: Infinite Dimensions Highlight the Artist’s Imagination and Dazzling Skill

BOSTON (January 30, 2018)—The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), presents the first exhibition of original prints and drawings in Boston by M. C. Escher (1898–1972), bringing together 50 works from public and private collections that highlight the artist’s rich imagination and mesmerizing technical ability. Opening February 3 and on view through May 28, 2018, M. C. Escher: Infinite Dimensions investigates some of the themes that define Escher’s work, including tessellations (arrangements of repeated shapes that fit together with no gaps), perspective and perception conundrums, sphere and water reflections, and transformations. Presented with support from Alexander M. Levine and Dr. Rosemarie D. Bria-Levine and the Netherland-America Foundation. Media sponsor is Boston magazine.

“From dorm-room posters to book jackets, the intricate puzzles and interlocking forms of M. C. Escher have teased and delighted millions of people around the world,” said Ronni Baer, William and Ann Elfers Senior Curator of Paintings. “Escher’s prints are at once serious and playful, drawing on mathematical principles to construct illogical spaces that mystify the eye and delight the mind. He pushed his own vision to the edges of infinity and beyond.”

To illustrate the far-reaching relevance of Escher’s creative vision, the MFA has invited a number of experts in fields ranging from design to aerospace to select a print in the exhibition and describe in an object label what speaks to them about that particular work. They include:

  • Cliff Ackley, Ruth and Carl J. Shapiro Curator of Prints and Drawings, MFA
  • James Carroll, Roman Catholic Reformer and author
  • Peter E. Gordon, Amabel B. James Professor of History, Harvard University
  • Graham Gund, President, Gund Partnership (architect)
  • Peter H. Fisher, Professor of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Larry Hokanson, Principal, Scott Group Studio (rug designer)
  • Ian Hunter, musician
  • Barbara Lynch, restaurateur and James Beard Award-winning chef
  • Yo-Yo Ma, cellist
  • Guy Nordenson, Principal, Guy Nordenson and Associates, Engineers, and Catherine Seavitt, Professor of Landscape Architecture, City College of New York
  • Diane Paulus, Artistic Director, American Repertory Theater
  • Lloyd Schwartz, poet and art critic
  • Nicole Stott, astronaut and artist
  • James Stroud, Director, Center Street Studio (master print maker)
  • Erik Demaine, Professor of Computer Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Daniel Villanueva, Filmmaker and Mentor, Artists for Humanity
  • Lawrence Barriner II, Program Director for Community Media, MIT Community Innovators Lab

Among the exhibition highlights are: the 13-foot-long Metamorphosis II (1939-40), a monumental exploration of the fluidity of time and space in which a chessboard, hive of bees, rustic village and other elements merge into a continuous woodcut printed from 20 blocks; Drawing Hands (1948), which plays with the conflict between the flat and the spatial; and Ascending and Descending (1960), a special type of optical illusion. Also on view are two Escher works from the MFA’s collection: a lithograph, Contrast (Order and Chaos) (1950); and a book of emblems with woodcut illustrations, XXIV Emblemata, dat zijn Zinne-beelden (1932).

Even during his lifetime, Escher was underappreciated by much of the mainstream art world—though mathematicians, crystallographers and psychologists of visual perception took great interest in his pictures. Indeed, a fascinating aspect of his work is its continued appeal, and importance, to a wide range of people. After looking closely at Escher’s art, the MFA encourages visitors to offer their own perspectives by using #Escher and sharing with @mfaboston.

Two upcoming programs extend the Escher experience beyond the galleries. On Thursday, March 1, the MFA hosts “M. C. Escher: Reflection and Perspective,” an evening of inspired conversation with four of the contributors—Erik Demaine, Barbara Lynch, Lloyd Schwartz and James Stroud—moderated by Baer. Each speaker will discuss how Escher has influenced and challenged them; the presentation will be followed by a brief Q&A. On Thursday, April 5, Baer presents, “Why So Popular? The Appeal of M. C. Escher,” a lecture that explores the artist’s varied work and vision.

Images: Please note that installation images will be available in early February. Members of the press are also invited to photograph the exhibition.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), is recognized for the quality and scope of its collection, representing all cultures and time periods. The Museum has more than 140 galleries displaying its encyclopedic collection, which includes Art of the Americas; Art of Europe; Contemporary Art; Art of Asia; Art of Africa and Oceania; Art of the Ancient World; Prints and Drawings; Photography; Textile and Fashion Arts; and Musical Instruments. Open seven days a week, the MFA’s hours are Saturday through Tuesday, 10 am–5 pm; and Wednesday through Friday, 10 am–10 pm. Admission (which includes one repeat visit within 10 days) is $25 for adults and $23 for seniors and students age 18 and older, and includes entry to all galleries and special exhibitions. Admission is free for University Members and youths age 17 and younger. Wednesday nights after 4 pm admission is by voluntary contribution (suggested donation $25), while five Open Houses offer the opportunity to visit the Museum for free. The Museum’s mobile MFA Guide is available at ticket desks and the Sharf Visitor Center for $5, members; $6, non-members; and $4, youths. The Museum is closed on New Year’s Day, Patriots’ Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. The MFA is located on the Avenue of the Arts at 465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115. For more information, call 617.267.9300, visit mfa.org or follow the MFA on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.