From dorm-room posters to book jackets, the perspectival puzzles and interlocking forms of M. C. Escher (1898–1972) have teased and delighted millions of people around the world. The MFA presents the first exhibition of original prints by the Dutch artist in Boston, bringing together 50 works from public and private collections that highlight his rich imagination and mesmerizing technical ability. “Infinite Dimensions” investigates some of the themes that define his work, including tessellations (arrangements of repeated shapes that fit together with no gaps), perspective and perception conundrums, sphere and water reflections, and transformations. Among the highlights is the 13-foot-long Metamorphosis II (1939-40), a monumental exploration of the fluidity of time and space in which a chessboard, hive of bees, rustic village, and other elements merge into a continuous woodcut printed from 20 blocks.
Escher’s prints are at once serious and playful, drawing on mathematical principles to construct illogical spaces that puzzle the eye and delight the mind. To illustrate the far-reaching relevance of Escher’s creative vision, the MFA has invited individuals from a variety of creative professions—including cellist Yo-Yo Ma and poet and critic Lloyd Schwartz—to choose and write about a print in the exhibition. “Escher’s [work] is like seeing the Earth from space,” writes astronaut Nicole Stott, “encouraging us to understand the harmony and complexity of our home from a completely new vantage point.”