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Mathematics and the Art of M. C. Escher

Doris J. Schattschneider, professor emerita of mathematics, Moravian College. Held in conjunction with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics annual meeting and the 120th anniversary of the birth of Dutch artist M. C. Escher (1898–1972), this lecture considers how the imagery in Escher’s graphic works makes use of geometry and often provides visual metaphors for abstract mathematical concepts. Recorded at the National Gallery of Art on April 25, 2018, Doris J. Schattschneider examines these concepts implicit in several of Escher’s works, outlines some of the geometry that governs his interlocking figures, and reveals how this “math anxious” artist performed pioneering mathematical research in order to accomplish his artistic goals. Escher’s mathematical curiosity and insight have been the inspiration for many mathematicians, scientists, and contemporary artists who seek solutions to problems (both mathematical and artistic) first posed by Escher himself.