Area 3. Metamorphosis

The studies undertaken by Escher in the Alhambra constitute the origin of these works based on the contiguity of forms. Escher found surprising the idea of an architecture that represented nature on its walls with poems merging into plant forms. These metamorphoses between geometry and nature really struck the artist and he did not hesitate to transfer them to his artworks, represented by figures and shapes that turn into living beings.

The works on display in this section speak of change, transformation, mutation and space and time simultaneously. Indeterminate and abstract forms morph into determinate forms, space travels through time and the day turns into night.

A fascinating aspect of the division of the plane is the dynamic balance of the motifs. It is here wherein a multitude of representations of opposing concepts are generated. Is it not natural to arrive at a theme such as “Day and night” through the dual function of the black and white motifs? It is at night when the white objects show up against the black background, and during the day when the black objects show up against the white background.

Metamorphosis II (1939), perhaps one of his most representative works, features insects, lizards, fish, birds, boats, horses and architectures. The work, measuring four metres in length, ends like it begins, closing a circle seeking the infinite.

In this search for the infinite, Escher undertakes more complex works such as Möbius Strip I (1961) and Möbius Strip II (1963). In the latter work, once again, he turns to animal figures such as ants along the strip without a beginning or end, that is to say, infinite.

Man is incapable of imagining that time could ever stop. For us, even if the earth should cease turning on its axis and revolving around the sun, even if there were no longer days and nights, summers and winters, time would continue to flow on eternally.


Even though he did not study topology, Escher was interested in this branch of mathematics, which is any way of transforming the plane without deforming it. This influence is obvious in many of his etchings and due to this he achieved astonishing visual effects. The forms move on the plane without changing the dimension or surface, so that the first and last figure are the same and geometrically congruent.

Escher basically moved figures putting into practice the three types of isometric transformations – translations, reflections and rotations – which he turned into endless combinations in his works. These geometric laws allowed him to create new worlds. Constantly changing worlds, only possible on paper.


  • Day and Night
    Day and Night
  • Metamorphosis II
    Metamorphosis II
  • Reptiles
  • Encounter
  • Magic mirror
    Magic mirror
  • Horseman
  • Predestination
  • Curl up
    Curl up
  • Swans (white swans, black swans)
    Swans (white swans, black swans)
  • Smaller and smaller
    Smaller and smaller
  • Cube with ribbons
    Cube with ribbons
  • Sphere surface with fish
    Sphere surface with fish
  • Fish and scales
    Fish and scales
  • Circle limit III
    Circle limit III
  • Mobius strip I
    Mobius strip I
  • Mobius strip II
    Mobius strip II
  • Square limit
    Square limit
  • Knots
  • Study form part of snakes
    Study form part of snakes
  • Snakes