Escher exhibit in The Hague

By Lorenz Rychner
This item appears on page 17 of the October 2018 issue.

Kathy Dolan and Lorenz Rychner demonstrating an optical illusion.
Did you know that Maurits Cornelis Escher (1898-1972), usually known as M.C. Escher, was Dutch? I guess everybody has, at one time or another, seen some of Escher's fantastical works, where stairs simultaneously go up and down and where endless loops are hard to figure out with the naked eye.

In Den Haag (The Hague), my wife, Kathy, and I visited the permanent "Escher in Het Paleis" exhibition (Lange Voorhout 74; www.escherinhetpaleis.nl/?lang=en), located in Lange Voorhout Palace, on Aug. 1, 2018.

To see so many of Escher's works displayed in one place was fascinating. They are shown in a well-thought-out manner, with lots of instructive text and some video. There's more to Escher than quirky visual jokes!

Het Paleis (The Palace), now a museum, is the former home of Emma of Waldeck and Pyrmont, the Netherlands' Queen consort (1858-1934), whose publicly exhibited memorabilia are confined to just a few rooms now, while M.C. Escher takes up three floors.

The exhibit shows how, over time, Escher developed his immense skills and his increasingly puzzling style, from early vistas of Italian villages seen from unusual angles to mathematically inspired complex works in his later years. The tessellations are so clever and compelling, you'll end up standing for minutes in front of a single work, letting your eyes and your brain decipher which elements flow into which other elements.

There's more fun to be had on the top floor, where a number of modern-day multimedia installations in the spirit of Escher continue his tradition of cheating the eyes of the beholder.

Front of the Lange Voorhout Palace — The Hague, Netherlands. Photo by Lorenz Rychner

The topper was a small space with an Escher-like trompe l'oeil effect. Two people stand in opposite corners of a space where the floor is slanting, and from a certain spot, somehow the onlooker's eye is deceived. Kathy is actually quite a bit shorter than I am, but in the photo taken of the two of us, she appears to dominate the space. Escher would have loved it!

The Escher exhibit, which is an easy 10-minute walk from Den Haag Centraal Station, is open daily (except Monday) from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission costs 9.50 (near $11), adult, and is free for children under age 7. (Note: The most famous Vermeer painting, "Girl with a Pearl Earring," hangs in the Mauritshuis, a 5-minute walk from Het Paleis.)

The direct Intercity trains from Amsterdam Centraal to Den Haag Centraal Station run frequently and take about 50 minutes. The fare is about 11.70 each way.

Planning a trip to the Netherlands can be done at the 9292 website, 9292.nl/en.

LORENZ RYCHNER
Denver, CO