A major exhibition of more than 100 works by iconic Dutch artist M. C. Escher opens November 13, 2016 at the Memorial Art Gallery.

Drawn from the world’s second-largest private collection of Escher’s work, Reality and Illusion includes early figure drawings, lesser-known book illustrations, detailed Italian landscapes, the “tessellations” for which he became famous, and several examples of his signature architectural fantasies in which stairways seem to go both up and down. The most iconic of these works, including a pair of hands drawing themselves and fish morphing into birds, are familiar to most people.

This exhibition of woodcuts, lithographs, mezzotints and drawings takes us deeper into both the literal and impossible worlds that Escher (1898–1972) created over a career that spanned five decades. It is one of the largest and most comprehensive retrospectives of the artist’s work ever offered in the United States.

The exhibition features early, little-known works, as well as Escher’s explorations into tessellation, infinity and depth. It also includes Metamorphosis (1939-40), an enormous woodcut 13½ feet in length; the exceptionally rendered Italian Landscapes, which inspired Escher’s series of Impossible Worlds, also on view; and two of the artist’s most popular and recognizable works, Waterfall (1961) and Relativity (1953).

M. C. Escher: Reality and Illusion remains on view through January 29, 2017.

Exhibition sponsors

M. C. Escher: Reality and Illusion is sponsored in Rochester by the Gallery Council of MAG, with additional support provided by Roger and Carolyn Friedlander, Dr. Dawn F. Lipson, Andy and Karen Gallina, the John D. Green Endowment for Contemporary Exhibitions, the Robert Lehman Foundation, the Rubens Family Foundation, the Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull Fund, Ron and Cathy Paprocki, Jim Moore and two anonymous donors.

Programs and events

These include a members’ preview party (November 12), an inservice for educators (November 16), a lecture by mathematician Doris Schattschneider (November 20), a series of docent-led tours and several related Creative Workshop classes for children and adults.

National tour

M. C. Escher: Reality and Illusion is in the midst of a national tour. Most recently, it was at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, NH. From MAG it travels to Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, WI.