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Over the next few years I occasionally played with the possibilities of 'cubes in paradoxical combinations', creating the endless staircase and figures of the devil's fork type. In 1958 the same Jan Cornell (now a well-known publisher) gave me an article to read in which the two Penroses introduced a number of impossible objects; it was only then that I realized what I had actually discovered as a boy.
My devil's fork was slightly different, by the way, to the figure subsequently published by Schuster; mine was derived from impossible meanders (fig. Up to that point I had drawn about a hundred impossible objects, but the Penrose article inspired me to begin a thorough exploration of the field. 2500 impossible objects between then and now ." Reutersvärd's account of how he arrived at the endless staircase also sheds light on the way in which his impossible objects arose in the form of related series: "A few days before making the journey from Stockholm to Paris (May 1950), I heard on the radio an interesting programme on Mozart's method of composition.
Another important example is found in the 15th-century fresco of an Annunciation in the Grote Kerk in Breda (above right). Kalf was the first to note something odd about the central pillar.
This impossible object seems closely related to the Pericope miniature, both in terms of its character and the reason for its invention.
I was sharp enough to realise that I had thereby drawn a paradoxical figure. "You must look it up in a mathematical encyclopaedia right away; you're bound to find something on such extraordinary geometric objects!
He takes up the story in the following excerpts from his own letters on the subject: "At senior school I had Latin and philosophy instead of maths and biology.It was an arduous experiment, but one that was both interesting and fruitful, and which enabled me to trace the development of increasingly complex figures step by step.I produced fourteen drawings during the almost 40-hour trip.We have a relatively clear overview of these more recent developments thanks to information received by the author at first hand.We shall be seeing in the second part of this chapter, however, that impossible objects, whether created consciously or unconsciously, have existed in art for a considerably longer period.