Rus Articles Journal

Moritz Cornelis Asher. Whether the geometry can be art? Part 1

“Mathematics opened the door conducting to other world, but did not decide to enter this world. They are interested more a way in which there is a door, than the garden lying behind it“.
(M. K. Asher)

When I studied in the first grade, one Bulgarian magazine fell of me into hands. On one of its pages the surprising picture where horrible chameleons pined in a vice … a regular polygon was printed. At that time I was interested in names of artists a little, but kept the picture. Through some time the cover from the Knowledge - Force magazine on which the chain of ants made the infinite way on the well-known Moebius band was added to it. These zoogeometrical phantasmagorias which blew my young mind had the same author - Moritz Cornelis Asher. So for me the new Wonderland opened, and I beheld impossible. Thirst for falling and ideal sandwich

“If you only knew

what visions visit me in darkness of night... Sometimes my inability to make them visible literally dements me. In comparison with these thoughts each separate engraving or drawing is a total failure, only the smallest particle of immensity whole“.
(M. K. Asher)

Dutch boy Moritz Cornelis Asher (sort. 1898) since the childhood was a little strange. Colourless, closed and stammering, he badly studied and was subject to two manias. The first it is possible to call “thirst for falling“ - all the vertical, directing up forms, had frightening and at the same time delightful attractiveness for the guy. Creation of “faultless sandwich“ was the second strangeness of little Asher. The messmate of future artist remembered how Moritz carefully stacked pieces of cheese and sausage on bread with the purpose to receive “an ideal covering“.

Surprising gift of the young man was interpreted not absolutely truly, and Moritz was sent to study as the architect. However soon it was transferred to a class of graphic design. Since then the engraving will become the main art form of Asher.

Upon termination of study Asher goes to travel around Italy and Spain to get acquainted with works of great masters. In spite of the fact that early pictures of Asher were quite naturalistic, they are already full inimitable harmonious beauty and the real magic (“Three worlds“, “A dew drop“, “Puddle“, etc.) . To Italy Asher so stuck that, having married, decided to lodge in Rome. Already in those days the talented Dutch enjoys popularity - so were present at christening of the son Asher the king Emmanuel himself also to Mussolini`s “cloud“. However, when on command of “guest of honour“ of the Italian children began to force to enter the fascist organization, the artist did not sustain.

In 1935 Asher`s family moves to Switzerland, and from the beginning of war - to Holland. Except parting with favourite Italy, war will bring to the artist and a personal grief: in a concentration camp his teacher - Jew Samuel Meskit will die. After arrest Mesketa Asher manages to visit his house and to rescue the teacher`s pictures, having transported to the museum of Amsterdam. He will keep only one sketch, on which the sole of a fascist boot … imprinted,

the Master of illusions

“To draw - means to deceive“.
(M. K. Asher)

B Asher practically ceases to draw 1938 nature. He is captured entirely by the strange “internal“ pictures which are to it in inspirations and dreams.
in 1936, visiting the Alhambra palace built by Arabs in Granada the artist was shaken to the bottom of the heart by Muslim mosaics and ornaments, them “enormous complexity and matematichesko - art sense“. And Asher with the same energy and the imagination with which once put “ideal sandwich“ passes to drawing up uncountable mosaics. It is known that in Muslim art it is forbidden to represent living beings. It is possible for this reason all art potential of the Arab world was splashed out in dizzy patterns - arabesques which floridity submitted to strict symmetry and frequency.

Asher a Muslim was not (he in general was an atheist) therefore his mosaics filled the figures of demons and angels, fishes and birds which are incomprehensibly merged in a whole, repeating. Nobody to Asher dared on so difficult and impudent experiment! The artist called division of the plane “the richest source of the inspiration“.

M. K. Asher:
“Sometimes when I draw, seems to me as if I am the medium who is in power of the beings generated by my imagination. They as if choose in what look to them to appear... The line dividing two adjacent figures carries out double function and to draw such line extremely difficult. On both sides from it what existed earlier only in imagination takes visible shape. But neither a human eye, nor human reason can behold at the same time two things therefore there is a fast and continuous switching of attention from the fact that there is about one side of the line, on what is on other side from it. But probably in this difficulty the driving spring of my persistence is also covered“.

Moritz`s Brother, the geologist by profession, saw in these mosaics evident material for a crystallography (science about a structure and symmetry of crystals). Asher decided to support the intuition with the theory, and in 1960 - m to his lectures on a crystallography validly listened to year professors of Cambridge. And five years later the International union of crystallographers even publishes the book “Symmetric aspects of periodic drawings of M. K. Asher“ where on 41 - ohm an ornament all flat crystallographic groups are shown.

Asher decided to do the second experiment over... space. Also achieved not less delightful and frightening progress. Falling is fine, awful a landing. And the artist creates the world in which falling can infinitely last. His small fishes continuously decrease, moving away from the center of a circle therefore not in forces to escape for its borders. The infinity having a limit - what? Of course, you will not surprise mathematicians with this fact, but one business - formulas and schedules, and another - quite evident small fishes!

Concerning the picture “Circular Limit“ Asher joked: “Actually this option should be written on an internal surface of a hemisphere. I offered it to the father Pavel that he disposed to decorate thus internal part of a dome of St. Peter`s Cathedral. Imagine infinite number of the crosses hanging at you over the head! But the idea was not pleasant to the father“. with

With space in pictures of the artist work positive miracles: it swells, fancifully is bent and becomes isolated on itself. On the closed Asher`s ladder it is possible to go down (or to rise) infinitely (picture “Ascension and Descent“). Its water can flow on descent all the time and nevertheless revolve, zrimo embodying dream of inventors of “perpetual motion machine“ (picture “Falls“). In its square it is possible to see at once both external and inside (picture “Belvedere“). His young man in art gallery can behold a picture and … at the same time to be in it (a picture “Art gallery“). And vice versa - the worlds can exist nearby, but never meet (picture “Double Asteroid“).

If we are capable to perceive the figures drawn on the two-dimensional plane three-dimensional, then why not to represent three-dimensional space as if we look at it from the fourth measurement? Whether it is possible to represent impossible? Asher could. If the Italian masters of the Renaissance invented prospect, then the Dutch artist finished it to the point of absurdity. The marvelous mad spatial constructions which are breaking out in Asher`s brain were embodied, dementing his audience now.

P. S.: Everything become interested I strongly recommend to read the first comment to this article.