Monday, January 4, 2016

Seeing the Works of M.C. Escher and Da Vinci

Trip to the Museum

This past weekend, my wife and I visited the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh. For Christmas this year, we were gifted some money from our grandparents and so we decided to become members of our local art museum. The North Carolina Museum of art is, I believe, the largest art museum in this area of North Carolina, containing a surprising amount of wonderful Renaissance work, some Romantic and Impressionist pieces, and a robust number of Modern artworks as well. By becoming members of the NCMA, we will be able to attend all of the special exhibits put on by the museum, like the exhibit we visited this weekend, as well as the summer movies on the lawn that are projected onto a large 50-60 ft. screen (looking forward to that)!

This particular special presentation was and a double feature and was titled, respectively: “The Worlds of M. C. Escher: Nature, Science, and Imagination + Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Leicester and the Creative Mind.” We began our visit with the latter, seeing selected pages from Da Vinci’s Codex: a treatise on his observations and speculations about water. He accompanied each page with diagrams to illustrate his ideas.

Leonardo da Vinci, Codex Leicester (Sheet 1A, folio 1r) (detail), 1508–10, ink on paper, 11 2⁄3 x 8 1⁄2 in., 
Courtesy of Bill Gates, © 1994 bgC3

As you can see in the picture above, in the text he is using his distinctive writing style: Italian but composed in mirror image. Some of the pages that we viewed contained observations on how water flows in straight versus bending rivers, diagrams for mechanical devices for the transportation of water, dams and more. 

While it was amazing to see in person these 16th century artifacts, the lighting was very low in the room, making it difficult to see. Because it was the near the end of this exhibit run, as well as the end of the holiday season, the museum was packed with people. My wife and I were both a little disappointed that the museum was not staggering the starting times for these exhibits so that one group at a time could go in, but we enjoyed seeing all the great art anyway!  

I love the works of the Dutch graphic artist, M.C. Escher (1898-1972), and so I was very excited to see this exhibition – the largest presentation of his works in North America, containing nearly all of his most famous pieces. I unfortunately cannot post images of any of his works here on the blog due to copyright infringement; however, you can view them legally here at the M.C. Escher Foundation Website. 

Escher is master of perspective and tricks of the eye, especially in his middle and later periods, in which he produced his most famous works. Among such pieces, we were able to see: Hand with Reflecting Sphere, 1935, Metamorphose II, 1940, Drawing Hands, 1948, Relativity, 1958, Ascending and Descending, 1960, among many others.

After walking through and enjoying see all of the magnificent pieces in these two displays, my wife and I decided to stroll along the walking paths in the park maintained by the museum. Here are a few photographs that I took of the scenery as we went along.  

NCMA Park Pond. Photo by Charles Wolf. Charles Wolf Studio © 2016

Trees on a Hill. Photo by Charles Wolf. Charles Wolf Studio © 2016

Clouds Above the NCMA Park. Photo by Charles Wolf. Charles Wolf Studio © 2016

In the end, it was an incredible and inspiring experience to have the opportunity to see the works of both Escher and Da Vinci in person. While it would have been nice to visit the museum on a less busy day, it was a memorable activity that we were able to share together as a couple.

What artist really inspires your imagination? Did you recently visit a museum as well? Tell me about your experience in the comments below! Thank you, as always, for reading,

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