Field of Science

Artist M.C. Escher and his Crystal-inspired Artwork

There is something breathtaking about the basic laws of crystals. They are in no sense a discovery of the human mind; they just “are” – they exist quite independently of us. The most that man can do is become aware, in a moment of clarity, that they are there, and take them into account. Long before there were people on the earth, crystals were already growing in the earth's crust. On one day or another, a human being first came across such a sparkling morsel of regularity lying on the ground or hit one with his stone tool and it broke off and fell at his feet, and he picked it up and regarded it in his open hand, and he was amazed.” 
- M. C. Escher (1898-1972)

Dutch artist Maurits Cornelis Escher was fascinated, or maybe even obsessed by "the systematic compartimentalization of space." Many of his illustrations show symmetrical shapes repeated into infinity, completely occupying all the available space. It is not a coincidence that Escher's work reseambles the molecular lattice structure and resulting crystal structure of minerals. Some of his surreal illustrations are even clearly based on crystals.

Spessartine-Garnet on Feldspar, Shigar Valley, Pakistan, and artwork by Escher.

Escher's half brother Berend Escher (1885-1967) was a professor of geology at Leiden University in the Netherlands, whose specialization was crystallography, mineralogy and vulcanology. It is likely that the artist Escher was introduced into the world of crystals by the mineralogist Escher.