I wasn’t expecting to find a museum dedicated to Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali in Florida, U.S.A. However, when I began researching our road trip through the Sunshine State, that is exactly what I found! I’ve never been a great fan of Dali’s work, though we share an obsession with spirals, let’s just say “I don’t get it.” However being a voracious consumer of all things art, the Salvador Dali Museum was added straight to our itinerary. It shouldn’t then be a surprise that the inspiration I found at the Museum was not sparked by the work of Dali. It came from an unexpected source, a temporary exhibit of art by Netherland’s Maurits Cornelis Escher.
You may not know the name Escher but you have surely seen his work. You know that scene near the end of the movie The Labyrinth, where the Goblin King (played by David Bowie) is taunting character Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) through an impossible-to-navigate building of staircases? Well that scene was inspired by Escher’s work, such as the 1950’s lithographs “Relativity” or “Convex and Concave.”
Escher was born in Leeuwarden, Netherlands in 1898. In secondary school he began drawing lessons and learnt block printing. He then studied graphic techniques at the School of Architecture and Ornamental Design in Haarlem.
Yes of course, Escher was a travelling creative! He spent years living and working in Italy where he met his wife. He also spent extended periods in Switzerland and Brussels before eventually returning to his homeland. A 1922 trip to Granada, Spain took him to the 14th century Moorish fort Alhambra, which greatly impacted the artist. The inspiration Escher derived from the intricate mosaic patterns of the fort are evident in his work.
By the time Escher passed in 1972, he had created over 448 lithographs, woodcuts and wood engravings plus more than 2000 drawings and sketches. His artistic work expanded to illustrating books, designing tapestries, postage stamps and murals. Though Escher’s Möbius Strip-style graphics, transformational puzzles and detailed tessellations showed mathematical genius, he always considered himself an artist.
Escher at the Dali
“Escher at the Dali,” as the exhibit was named, was my first true introduction to Escher and I was awestruck! Was it not enough that he created these unbelievably complex geometrical pieces, but that he created them by incredibly manual techniques such as wood cutting and engraving, that leave little room for error. Since the advent of computers, this kind of design has become infinitely easier and will likely never be created by these mediums ever again.
Destination to inspiration
I was so energized by the exhibition, I felt compelled to try my hand at an Escher-esque creation. I played around on and off for months, until finally as Christmas approached I created a basic, two-dimensional transformational piece that I was reasonably proud of for a first effort. My holiday-themed graphic morphs from baubles to wreathes, through holly berries and leaves to Christmas trees, and back through holly leaf forms to four-point stars, which eventually transform to baubles again. Let me know what you think in the comments.
Peace, love & inspiring travel,