Regelmatige vlakverdeling, M.C. Escher

The sentence reproduced on this page, meaning ‘There is an element of the minstrel in every graphic artist’, continues on the next page of the book: ‘in each print he makes from one particular woodblock, copperplate or lithographic stone, he always sings and repeats the same song’. This second part of the sentence touches on a very striking aspect in Escher's work: repetition. The woodcuts in which he gradually transforms one figure into another, by constantly repeating the same figure with infinitesimally small changes, are universally known. Geometric figures become birds, birds become fish, bees become honeycombs and a black figure on white becomes white on black by this same principle. It is not surprising that he chose this sentence for the opening of his book: it is a reflection of this technique.

As he wanted to be an architect, M.C. Escher (1898-1972) started his training at the School for Architecture and Decorative Arts in Haarlem. However, one of his teachers, the graphic artist Jessurun de Mesquita, discovered his talent for drawing and encouraged him to change to the department of graphic art. One can still see his interest in architecture in his oeuvre, not only when he is working with planes, but also in his experiments with mathematical figures and perspective. It enables him to combine different styles in one work, styles that would seem incompatible, but that are made into a logical whole by his expert and imaginative constructions.

The book was published by the Stichting ‘De Roos’, a foundation established in June 1945 by Christiaan Leeflang, Charles Nypels, and G.M. van Wees. Its aim was ‘to make books and printed matter solely for the pure and therefore altruistic love of typography and art, in all conceivable forms in which they may be combined’. It has a maximum of 175 members, and for many years has had a waiting list for prospective members. Every year three or four works are published, for members only. The foundation aims at involving as many different people and companies as possible in design, illustrations, printing and binding; as a result the collective publications reflect contemporary achievements in these fields in the Netherlands. Of all the publications by the Stichting ‘De Roos’ this is the most sought-after.

Regelmatige vlakverdeling. M.C. Escher. Utrecht, Stichting ‘De Roos’, 1958. 45, [4] pp., 34.5 x 26 cm. Printed by Boosten & Stols (Maastricht). Typographical design by Aldert Witte. Ed. of 175 copies, intended for the members of the Stichting ‘De Roos’, U

Regelmatige vlakverdeling. M.C. Escher. Utrecht, Stichting ‘De Roos’, 1958. 45, [4] pp., 34.5 x 26 cm. Printed by Boosten & Stols (Maastricht). Typographical design by Aldert Witte. Ed. of 175 copies, intended for the members of the Stichting ‘De Roos’, Utrecht. 44 F 16, p. [9]

Literature

J.L. Locher e.a. De werelden van M.C. Escher. Amsterdam 1971
Stichting 'De Roos' 40 jaar, 1946-1986. Utrecht [1986]