Mathematics and the Art of M.C. Escher

Virginia and Ira Jackson Lecture

Mathematics and the Art of M.C. Escher

Presented by Doris Schattschneider in conjunction with the exhibition Virtual Realities: The Art of M.C. Escher from the Michael S. Sachs Collection

M.C. Escher’s graphic work not only makes obvious use of geometry but often provides visual metaphors for abstract mathematical concepts. Escher was fascinated by—and a master at—depicting symmetry, duality, reflection, relativity, recursion, dimension, and topological change. Again and again, he strived to capture infinity.

No math knowledge is needed to enjoy this talk about the concepts in Escher’s work. The presentation outlines the transformation geometry that governs his interlocking figures and reveals how this “math anxious” artist conducted pioneering mathematical research to accomplish his artistic goals. Escher’s curiosity and insight continue to inspire mathematicians, scientists, and artists who seek solutions to mathematical and artistic problems posed by Escher himself.

Plan Your Visit
Admission to this program is free. Seating in Brown Auditorium Theater is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Tickets to Virtual Realities: The Art of M.C. Escher may be purchased separately. On Thursdays, general admission to the MFAH is free, and the Museum is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

About the Speaker
Doris Schattschneider is professor emerita of mathematics at Moravian University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Combining her dual interests in mathematics and art, she is the author of M.C. Escher: Visions of Symmetry, and with graphic designer Wallace Walker she designed polyhedral forms covered with Escher tessellations for the book M.C. Escher. Kaleidocycles.

Safety Guidelines In the interest of your personal safety and community health, please observe all precautions set forth by the MFAH. Learn more here.

The annual Virginia and Ira Jackson Lecture receives generous funding from the Virginia and Ira Jackson Endowment Fund at the MFAH.

All Learning and Interpretation programs at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, receive endowment funds provided by Louise Jarrett Moran Bequest; Caroline Wiess Law; Windgate Foundation; the William Randolph Hearst Foundation; Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the Fondren Foundation; BMC Software, Inc.; the Wallace Foundation; the Neal Myers and Ken Black Children’s Art Fund; Mr. and Mrs. A. L. Ballard; Mr. and Mrs. Charles W. Tate; the Eleanor and Frank Freed Foundation; Virginia and Ira Jackson; the Favrot Fund; CFP Foundation; Neiman Marcus Youth Arts Education; gifts in memory of John Wynne; and gifts in honor of Beth Schneider.

“Virtual Realities: The Art of M.C. Escher from the Michael S. Sachs Collection” is organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Generous support provided by:
Luther King Capital Management 
Vivian L. Smith Foundation 
Marty and Kathy Goossen
Martha and Richard Finger
Marc Grossberg
The Francis L. Lederer Foundation, courtesy of Sharon Lederer and Ellis Mills IV
Elizabeth and George Passela
Grace Phillips and Eugene Nosal
The Scurlock 

This program is supported as part of the Dutch Culture USA program by the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York.


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