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Up the Down Staircase: Escher Exhibition & Experience Comes to Brooklyn

It’s likely you know M.C. Escher’s work on sight. He’s the one who drew staircases that seem to go up and down at the same time, interlocking in an impossible architectural knot. This year, Escher’s work will enjoy an extended stay in Brooklyn—specifically, the undersung part of Sunset Park known as Industry City. At Escher: The Exhibition & Experience, around 200 of Escher’s pieces are on display, in addition to work by other artists, fashion designers, and filmmakers who have been inspired by Escher.

Hand with Reflecting Sphere by M. C. Escher. Lithograph, 1935.

Hand with Reflecting Sphere by M. C. EscherLithograph, 1935.

M.C. Escher was Maurits Cornelis Escher (1898-1972), a mathematically gifted artist from the Netherlands. Escher was concerned with the nature of infinity and was rather gifted at representing his concerns through visual media. His earlier works were a beginner’s landscapes, as shown in the exhibition. His later style—abstract, mathematical, the object of many a double-take—began in the 1930s and lasted through the 1960s.

Escher The Exhbition & Experience

The “Experience” portion of Escher involves opportunities for visitors of all ages to throw themselves into Escher’s topsy-turvy world. Take a picture in the photo booth with an optical-illusion background resembling the Escheresque poster for Hitchcock’s Vertigo. The “Relativity Room” involves some illusions of scale, a la Alice in Wonderland. See your reflection echoing forever in the “Infinity Room.” Scientific experiments and play places for children are also included.

Escher Eye

Escher's Eye dpecits an eye with a skull imprinted onto its pupil.

In addition to those famously confounding stairs, Escher drew an image of two hands arranged in an elliptical shape, both holding pencils, both drawing each other. These pieces represent the paradoxes and subtle pranksterism of the artist, who said, “Wonder is the salt of the earth.” Also on view are Metamorphosis II, in which a tessellated flock of geese transforms bit by bit into a field, and Eye, with a skull imprinted onto its pupil.

The exhibition seeks to expose kids to the intersection of art, math, science, and architecture—what better teacher than Escher? 

Escher is open from 10am to 7pm, with closing time extended to 9pm on Thursdays. Tickets for adults are $20. Special pricing is available for adult and student groups, and guides are available for group reservations. Workshops are also available for students and families. With a workshop, kids can get a hands-on opportunity to draw a tessellation piece of their own and see what secret images they can hide in their art.  

After you visit Escher, be sure to tour Industry City’s amazing facilities. Stores include Saks Off Fifth, Bed, Bath, & Beyond, and World Market. 


ESCHER lasts from June 8, 2018 to March 3, 2019. It is located at 34 34th St., Building 6, in Brooklyn. Visit eschernyc.com for tickets and more.

About the Author

Merrill Lee Girardeau grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. The recipient of a BA in English and an MFA in Writing, Merrill Lee teaches English to college students and lives in Brooklyn.

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