The first ever show of one of the most popular but overlooked artists of the last century, opens in Scotland this weekend.

MC Escher, a Dutch artist described as a "one man art movement", created works which feature impossible buildings and geographies which have subsequently inspired graphic artists, film makers and even computer games with their optical illusions.

The National Galleries of Scotland are mounting the first UK show of his work at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, and have also installed a maze in its Edinburgh grounds to attract the attention of children and families.

The most well known works of Escher, who lived from 1898 to 1972, are present in the show, which runs form today until September 27, including Relativity, Hand With a Reflecting Sphere, Day and Night and Belvedere, as well as one of his most popular prints, Drawing Hands.

Patrick Elliott, senior curator at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, said Escher is an accessible artist and hopes the exhibition attracts families and children as well as inspire a reappraisal of his work in museums and galleries.

Only one museum in the UK holds a work by Escher - the Hunterian Gallery in Glasgow, which owns Day and Night from 1938.

Mr Elliott said that Escher was not comfortable with the fame he found in the 1960s and rejected offers by the Rolling Stones and Stanley Kubrick, the film director, to work with them on projects.

The show includes more than 100 works of prints and drawings.

Mr Elliott said: "He really has been completely overlooked by the arts establishment, partly because he is seen as a graphic artist, partly perhaps because prints and drawings are tricky to conserve - if he had painted in oils the Tate would be obliged to own him.

"But he was not part of a movement and he does not fit nicely into an idea of 'art history'.

"He is a forgotten genius."

The show, entitled The Amazing World of MC Escher, also features archive material, preparatory sketches, his tools and other background materials.

Elliott added: "There are two qualities an artist needs to become a great artist: imagination and technique, and Escher had both in spades.

"The odd thing isn't that we are showing Escher's work, it's that few people thought of showing his before."

Benno Tempel, director of the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, from which the show draws its entire collection of works, said: "The beautiful thing with Escher is that people of all ages immediately appreciate his work. For many peope he is their first acquaintance with art."