Day and Night (1938) by Maurits Cornelis Escher

Day and Night - Maurits Cornelis Escher - 1938

Artwork Information

TitleDay and Night
ArtistMaurits Cornelis Escher
MediumWoodcut in black and gray, printed from two blocks
Dimensions39.1 x 67.7 cm (15 3/8 x 26 5/8 in.)
Art MovementOp Art

About Day and Night

The artwork entitled “Day and Night” is a striking woodcut created by Maurits Cornelis Escher in 1938. With dimensions of 39.1 by 67.7 cm, it is a seminal piece within the Op Art movement, employing the technique of tessellation, an intricate pattern play of interlocking shapes. The medium of this woodcut encompasses black and grey hues, expertly printed from two blocks to bring forth its meticulous and compelling visual narrative.

“Day and Night” displays a duality of scene and theme, drawn in an exquisite tessellation that Escher is renowned for. It marvelously depicts a transformational landscape that moves from daylight on one side to night on the other. At the transition point, meticulously shaped birds emerge, their forms perfectly interlocking with the negative space created by their opposites in color. The black birds seamlessly morph into a night scene, while the white birds transform into the day, showcasing the artist’s exceptional ability to blend natural elements with geometric precision.

The countryside serves as the underlying canvas, as the marbled farmland is divided by a winding river, that further accentuates the symmetry of the birds flying in opposite directions. On either side of the river, different communities are illustrated, with one basking in the sunlight while the other is depicted in the tranquil shades of evening.

The unmistakable contrast between the two halves of the artwork exemplifies a thoughtful contemplation on the cyclical nature of time and the coherent relationship between seemingly opposing forces. The way Escher plays with light and shadow, form and space, further underscores his mastery over visual illusions and highlights the artwork’s place in the category of Op Art.

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