Visions of Infinity

Tiling a hyperbolic floor inspires both mathematics and art

By Ivars Peterson, 15:47 PM April 15, 2008

Even the most brilliant innovators get their inspiration from somewhere.

For the Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher, such a creative impetus came from a particular illustration in a 1957 mathematical article about symmetry. It gave him what he later described as "quite a shock" and inspired him to create four artworks: the Circle Limit series of prints.

The illustration showed a curious tiling of black and white triangles with curved sides. Enclosed within a circle, the alternately colored trian...

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