Escher: The Paradoxes of Reality

Rocco Forte Hotels

Marking 100 years since he first visited Rome, a major exhibition celebrating the life and work of Dutch graphic artist Maurits Cornelis Escher has opened at Palazzo Bonaparte, in the heart of the
city. 

Known for his surrealist pieces that artfully merge mathematics, science, and design, Escher's work has broad appeal, garnering huge popularity in recent years. The largest Escher retrospective in history, the exhibition showcases 300 works including the renowned “Hand with Reflective Sphere” and “Metamorphosis II”, but also the full 12-part series “Roman Nocturnes” – an ode to his enduring relationship with the Italian capital. 

Here we speak to Federico Giudiceandrea, exhibition curator, on the importance of this historic showcase.

What makes Escher so special, and his legacy so enduring?

Escher is an artist who more than others captured the spirit of the 20th century. The last century was marked by great scientific innovations. Theories such as Albert Einstein's relativity Max Plank's quantum physics revolutionized our conception of the world. These theories challenged not only entrenched concepts such as space and time but also the real existence of an observer-independent reality. The perception of reality turns out to be fallacious. Reality is no longer perceived only as it appears but leaves room for paradoxes. Escher, like few, was able to occupy these room, managing to represent in his works what at first glance appears real but on closer observation is not.

You have collated 300 works for this exhibition - how did you go about finding them all? And can you give us a ‘sneak peak’ into some of the as-yet-unseen pieces visitors can expect to enjoy?

The works come from the collection of the Escher Foundation supplemented by works from an Italian private collection. Many are works never exhibited to date such as a series of watercolors depicting his famous tessellations of the plane. Also of note is the exhibition of the complete series of Roman Nocturnes, a series of 12 woodcuts made in Rome in the 1930s.

This is the largest collection of Escher works ever exhibited - how do you stage something like this and what made Palazzo Bonaparte the ideal location?

On the occasion of the centenary of Escher's arrival Rome, where he lived for 12 years and which Escher considered the best years of his life, this major retrospective, the largest ever held in Italy, deserved such a prestigious venue as Palazzo Buonaparte.

Hotel Russie & Hotel de la Ville are partners for the show and many of our guests will want to enjoy the exhibition - how do you want them to feel afterwards?

Escher's art, his paradoxical images, are now part of our collective imagination. This exhibition searches for their roots and shows their development. Our hope is that eventually the visitor will understand how those images, already familiar to him, were created and evolved to become iconic.

It’s always difficult to pick just one, but if you had to - which of Escher’s works would you want in your own home and why?

Metamorphosis II is certainly one of Escher's great masterpieces. In a metamorphic cycle Escher depicts becoming starting from the undefined form that through the tessellation technique is transformed into animated forms until it becomes a memory of the village of Atrani, the absolute most beloved place, and then returns to the undefined.

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