We are delighted to announce that M. C. Escher’s Day and Night 1938 is now formally part of the NGV Collection. This print featured in our popular summer exhibition Escher X nendo | Between Two Worlds, which was experienced by over 290,000 visitors.
Opportunities to acquire Escher’s work are rare, and the addition of Day and Night to the NGV Collection will establish a legacy not only of the exhibition, but also of Escher’s mastery of illusion and composition. It is the first work by the artist to enter a Victorian public collection. The Gallery’s holdings of prints and drawings is one of the great strengths of the NGV Collection and it is significantly enhanced by the addition of this important work.
This significant acquisition was made possible only through the generosity of supporters gratefully acknowledged below.
Maurits Cornelis Escher was born in 1898 into a prosperous family in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands. He studied graphic arts in Haarlem and worked as a printmaker throughout his life, creating some of the most celebrated and enigmatic prints of the twentieth century. Following his training, he settled in Rome, started a family and began producing prints inspired by nature and the picturesque landscapes of southern Italy.
Escher and his family left Italy in 1935 due to the rise of fascism. This departure prompted the artist to shift focus away from the external world to his inner, imaginary world. He began using his refined skills to produce ingenious and complex optical illusions, tessellations and ‘impossible realities’. These were first only taken seriously by mathematicians and scientists, but by the late 1960s Escher’s work had become widely popular, particularly with the counterculture generation, who appreciated the mind-bending nature of his images.
In the 1960s Escher’s failing health and the rising popularity of his woodcuts (which he printed on demand) slowed the artist’s creation of new prints, although his late works are no less inventive or technically brilliant than his earlier work. Escher made his last print in 1969, a year after his first museum retrospective was held at the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague. He died in 1972 at seventy-three years of age.