M.C. Escher & Louise Bourgeoise

M.C. Escher and Louise Bourgeois

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Page 1: M.C. Escher and Louise Bourgeois

M.C. Escher&

Louise Bourgeoise

Page 2: M.C. Escher and Louise Bourgeois

– German born artist Escher first delved into the field of print work during his later teenage years under the teachings of S. Jessurun de Mesquita.

– During this period Escher himself admits that his focus was not at all that of a designer or artist but rather a craftsman, determined to attain complete mastery of his skill; woodcut prints* and to a lesser degree Lithographs and Linoleum cuts.

– Because of this Escher worked solely from life drawings and observational sketches, picking and choosing imagery depending on what would allow him to develop his technical mastery of the woodcut.

– Because of this very few Escher enthusiasts are likely to recognise his early, and admittedly far more underwhelming pieces.

*Woodcut prints: specifically describing the gouging of side-grained woodblocks, usually pear, to create prints with, a especially popular medium for graphic designers at the time.

M.C. Escher – Early work 1916- 1921

Page 3: M.C. Escher and Louise Bourgeois

M.C. Escher-His Italian Period– From 1923 to 1935 Escher lived and studied in Italy and it was about

this time that he really begun to develop a passion for more abstract work.

“Ideas came into my mind quite unrelated to graphic work, notions which so fascinated me that I

longed to communicate them to other people”– Whilst the development of his techniques lessened in importance

Escher did not disregard his skillset, instead realising it was a perfect and familiar method to communicate his new ideas en masse.

– Escher started studying the creation of vast and complex structures, setting the groundwork for his later illusionary pieces, as well as developing an intense interest in reflective orbs and their distortions of the world around him.

– This period was a celebration of his amazingly in depth grasp of perspective.

Page 4: M.C. Escher and Louise Bourgeois

M.C. Escher- and now, Tessellations– Upon his stay in Switzerland & Belgium Escher began to create a

plethora of prints that soon led to him being regarded by many as the ‘Father of modern tessellations’.

– Quite suddenly, with absolutely no previous training or education in the area, Escher proved himself to be quite simply a mathematical genius, at least in the field of geometry.

– Spanish “Regular division of the plane” using tiling became the inspiration of many intricate, beautiful and often rather comical prints.

– About half of these including the idea of “Metamorphism” in which motifs would seamlessly and symmetrically devolve into others.

– Even modern day mathematicians, with specific computer programs to aid them, continue to be amazed by Escher’s work.

20 blocks on 3 combined sheets. 3,895mm x 192mm.

Page 5: M.C. Escher and Louise Bourgeois

M.C. Escher- Optical Illusions– As his ideas grew Escher, very shortly after his

discovery of Tessellations, proved himself equally talented when it came to optical illusions.

– Specifically, impossible structures. Drawn from his earlier work, studying the architecture of Italy, Escher begun manipulating the finer lines that came with lithograph printing.

– With this he created optical illusions, impossible structures that played with gravity, pillar placement and perspective.

– Many of these ideas being inspired by fellow artist Oscar Reutersvärd.

– However Escher was the sole inventor of the groundbreaking ‘Impossible cube’. First seen as a mere fine detail in a large scale print.

Page 6: M.C. Escher and Louise Bourgeois


Page 7: M.C. Escher and Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois – Origins and Influences– Paris born Louise Bourgeois' work I feel is best described as visual poetry;

as described by Frances Morris she was “an artist who rarely makes work to order and never makes work to please.”

– - With a life that spanned from 1911-2010, when she sadly died at age 98; Louise Bourgeois survived both world wars, bore witness to the splitting of the atom, the moon landing, the unravelling of DNA and the revolution of the internet.

– During this time Bourgeois amassed a great deal of personal psychological traumas that had a huge impact on her work. However it also granted her with a great deal of wisdom drawn from the evolution of the objective historical and social conditions and the intellectual climates she saw.

– Bourgeois' work, whilst abstract did not obey any of the conventions of the emerging Abstract Expressionism of the time . Bourgeois instead focused solely on expressing and almost working through her own emotions, thoughts and traumas.

– Despite all the seriousness, Bourgeois managed to maintain a aura of humour and dare I say cheekiness, through a great deal of her work.

Page 8: M.C. Escher and Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois- Totems– Whilst Bourgeois' first pieces of independently created work were the

modest paintings from before, she very quickly shifted into the primary medium of sculpture, manipulating a vast array of mediums.

– This shift was born from a desire to amplify the intensity and reality of her work. She felt that it allowed for a far more engaged process of creating as well as a far more intense experience and understanding for the viewer.

– Her earliest sculptures being part of a series called ‘Personages’ and once again leaning more towards abstract than figurative. These sculptures were created on Bourgeois' rooftop, the landscape of skyscrapers most likely being a huge part of the sculptures' architectural form.

– Yet again, if more subtly, expressing a merge of humanoid figures and architecture.

– Bourgeois crafted several similar ‘totem’ like structures, albeit made from a variety of materials in the following years,, including fabrics, the start of her transition into later, more biological work.

Page 9: M.C. Escher and Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois- Organic Forms– The next major phase in Bourgeois' work was organic and humanoid forms,

through which she explored and expressed many themes; superlative emotions, phycology and psychological illnesses, sex and sexual freedom.

– Bourgeois' organic work is best split into three categories;

• Complete/almost complete humanoid figures

• Disembodied limbs, organs, etc.

• Particularly phallic smaller sculptures

– Most commonly made of marble, cast bronze or fabric, Bourgeois’ humanoid figures are often missing limbs or heads and carry some of the darker ideas of mental illness and her own personal traumas.

– Usually made from marble or cast bronze Bourgeois’ disembodied limbs and organs sculptures commonly symbolized the dramatic contrasts in the human form as well as being deliberately ambiguous and a nod to famous phycologist Sigmund Freud.

– Far less common were Bourgeois’ phallic sculptures that whilst occasionally representing further looks into psychoanalysis, usually were rooted more in the artist’s personal sense of humor and views on gender roles.

Page 10: M.C. Escher and Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois- Arch of Hysteria– Of particular interest to me and a recurring piece of imagery in Bourgeois' organic and

more humanoid work are her various Arches of Hysteria.

– With varying mediums and contexts, ‘Arch of Hysteria’ is one of Bourgeois' most recurring imagery.

– The three shown are the most finished and popular examples of this trend in her work.

– The first (Cell) Arch of Hysteria, made in 1992-3 from steel, bronze and cast iron is part of a larger installation. This piece refers to the work of neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot and his research into the causes of hysteria. Bourgeois' creation shows not only appreciation for the theories but also opposition of Charcot’s somewhat sexist ideals with the use of a masculine figure. It revolves around the ideas of stress and happiness, tension and release.

– The next Arch of Hysteria, made in 1993 from bronze and polished patina, is far more dynamic. Yet again in the form of a man, if a obviously more flexible one. This piece has particular geometric appeal due to the circular form of the pose. This Arch is supposed to represent balance and control.

– The final Arch, made in 2000 from pink fabric has the least context given by the artist. However the change to a softer medium, female form and use of overstuffing to create tension givers it a far more personal feeling than the other two.