the enigma of MC Escher

001761_3_Escher_RelativityAlastair Sooke at the

It must be one of the most familiar images in modern art: a space-distorting interior that could never exist in reality, dominated by staircases sprouting surreally in all directions, and filled with expressionless, mannequin-like figures walking up and down like members of a religious order calmly going about their daily business.

Since the original lithograph was produced in the summer of 1953, Relativity – which belongs to a series of five prints by the same artist also featuring impossible constructions and multiple vanishing points – has been reproduced countless times on posters, mugs, T-shirts, items of stationery and even duvet covers.

Yet, if we’re honest, how much do most of us really know about its creator, the Dutch printmaker MC Escher (1898-1972)? The truth is that outside his homeland Escher remains something of an enigma.

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