Maurits Cornelis Escher (1898-1972) is one of the world’s most famous graphic artists. Like some other famous artists (Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci), Escher was left-handed. He was born in the Netherlands as the fourth and youngest son of a civil engineer. After failing his high school exams, he was enrolled in the Haarlem School for Architecture and Decorative Arts, where he decided he would rather study graphic art. He lived and traveled in both Switzerland and Italy. As he grew older, Escher gained success and popularity. He was called “Everyman’s Artist”, because he made prints that everyday people could afford to buy. He also created art to be used in everyday life. He designed postage stamps, assembled murals in public buildings, designed patterns for t-shirts, and illustrated book covers. His fascinating designs captivated people everywhere. It affected him deeply when people who had very little money bought his artwork. But when he gained success, he had no interest in the money he made. He only regarded his success as a sure sign of appreciation. That was most important to M.C. Escher.

Day and Night
What do you see first, the black birds flying to the left or the white birds flying to the right? Can you see both of them at once? No, it is nearly impossible. The black birds and the white birds together form a tessellation. In tessellations, the shapes are the same and they fit perfectly together, with no gaps and no overlaps. But the mystery of this masterpiece doesn’t start with the birds; it is to be found at the bottom center of the work. Find a light, almost a diamond-shaped field in the bottom center. Now follow it upward; the field changes shape—to a white bird! The same thing happens with the dark, diamond-shaped fields, but they turn into black birds! Escher was fascinated with shapes and patterns.