Maurits Cornelis Escher - The Tower of Babel
Escher's tessellations are his most popular works. One sees them everywhere, beloved by people who otherwise have no connection with the arts. Maybe that is part of their attraction: one needs no education in art to like them. They appeal to desires for symmetry and rhythm which Santayana attributed to a more primitive level of consciousness. They appeal almost to the level which is otherwise most fascinated by texture, a level which in Western art is usually relegated to folk decoration and architectural ornament.

Escher himself considered these his best works. But he also said that "the recognizability of the components of my designs is the reason for my unfailing interest in [the division of the plane]". He was talking about "concrete, recognizable, naturalistically conceived figures of fish, birds, reptiles, or human beings." In his remarks on both his earliest and latest works, he makes it clear that the human, emotional, and existential elements in his work were almost as important to him as the mathematical elements.

In any case, there is no a priori reason to assume that an artist's intellectual understanding of his work is greater than anyone else's.

In short, perhaps the public's neglect of Escher's earlier works is based on ignorance, or on some other lack in the public. Or perhaps Escher's two periods (as he himself described them) appeal to two different publics.
Maurits Cornelis Escher - Day and Night

Spaces, not commas, please!