What is Mosaic Art ?
Mosaic art has been around since ancient times and it still hasn’t seen the better days.
The contemporary artists give their all to invent more modern mosaics while preserving and getting inspired by ancient mosaics.
They were built from fragments of tiles to form a bigger design.
So, if you need to gain a bit of know-how on mosaic art history and how it has become so popular, keep reading!
So What is Mosaic art?
Mosaic art is one of the most intricate artistic techniques in the world. The term “Mosaic” supposedly originated from the Greek word “mousa” which means “muse.”
If you were wondering how mosaic art is created, it’s all about tiny pieces of glass, stone, or ceramics. These small pieces are the glue that holds the whole decorative mosaic art.
The tiles that are used on Mosaic art are often square otherwise round or random shaped. These tiny squares are known as tesserae whereas the rounded tiles are called pebbles.
When answering the question,” how is mosaic art created?”, there are 2 main ways for creating mosaic art known as the direct and indirect method.
In the direct method, the artist is placing the tiles directly on the final surface of their choosing such as a table, wall, or any other object.
In the indirect method, the artist lays the tiles on a backing paper. The design then transferred to the desired final surface. This is the best way to create larger mosaic designs. This technique can hinder possible errors.
When the final mosaic design is held in place by plaster/mortar, it can be viewed from far. Then the whole picture is seen as a colorful, and meaningful masterpiece.
However, anyone can practice this ancient mosaic craft, if they have the required supplies, a pinch of creativity, and a great deal of patience.
The history of Mosaic arts
When scrutinizing the mosaic art history, we find the most ancient mosaic art from a Mesopotamian temple. This dates back to the 3rd millennium BC. which was created using ivory, seashells, and stones.
Thousands of years later, Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire took the inspiration to create mosaics from these ancient mosaics. However, Mesopotamian mosaic makers were leaning more into decorative and abstract work whereas Classical artists display the passion to create patterns, pictures, and motifs with their types of mosaic art.
Ancient mosaics played a vital role in Catholic basilicas across Italy from the 4th century until the Renaissance. Most of these basilicas flaunted the decorated mosaic glass work in both ceilings and floors. These ancient mosaics were often depicting the portraits of saints and other biblical figures.
In the 7th and 8th centuries, ancient mosaics were popular in early Islamic architecture. These ancient mosaics usually emphasized geometric forms, patterns, vivid colored designs both inside and outside of the buildings.
During the 5th century, the capital of the Western Roman Empire or Ravenna was the center of the ancient mosaic art of Rome. The ancient mosaic of Justinian I in Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna is one of the most impeccable examples from this time.
Mosaic art history isn’t complete without mentioning the Byzantine culture. Ancient mosaic art flourished during the Byzantine Empire from the 6th to the 15th centuries. Mosaics were centralized in Byzantine culture than in Western Europe.
As a result, most Byzantine church interiors were elegantly decorated with golden mosaics. Unfortunately, most Byzantine mosaics were destroyed during wars and conquests. However, some unparalleled examples of ancient mosaics of Byzantine culture such as Saint Peter mosaic from the Chora Church have survived to motivate modern mosaic artists.
Although mosaics lagged a bit during the Renaissance, Modernists such as Antoni Gaudí revived the ancient mosaics and added a hint of revolution. Because of them, ancient mosaics have come a long way to support modern mosaic artists to keep the craft alive.
Types of mosaic art
There are a couple of types of mosaic art that are combinations of ancient mosaic art and modern mosaic art. Many of these are fashioned in contemporary homes.
Classical Mosaic Art
These are old fashioned mosaics that are often made with granite, marble, and thick Italian glass.
Pebble Mosaic Art
Pebble Mosaic art is exclusively for the ones who sought a rustic final look. These Types of mosaic art designs require the right type of pebbles to create different designs. These are somewhat expensive.
Hand-Cut Mosaic Art
Usually created with ceramic and glass tiles, these types of mosaic art are often used for complex and vivid designs. The tiles used in these designs are thinly cut and shaped by glass cutters and tile nippers manually.
Industrial Mosaic Art
The industrial style falls into the least expensive type of mosaic art. A small scale tile cutter is used to cut the tiles and the manual labor is less.
Custom Ceramic Inserts
These are usually used to make lettering and detailed work that cannot be created with other types of mosaic art.
The modern mosaic art
The mosaic art history teaches us one thing, that is creativity. Likewise, ancient mosaic art isn’t a stale art form. To prove that, many modern mosaic artists have created phenomenal types of mosaic art while keeping the essence of ancient mosaics.
For instance, take the skillful Vancouver and New York-based contemporary artist Jason Dussault. His strong suit is creating portraits of pop icons and superheroes while infusing mosaic art into them.
Isidora Paz López is another Chilean ceramist, mosaicist, and muralist who transforms streets into colorful mosaic landscapes. With the help of 100 other people, she had managed to embellish 83 pillars of 4 stations in Puente Alto with vivid colored tiles. She transformed these concrete pillars into artworks that depict the flora and fauna of the region.
Another pre-eminent Malibu-based artist is Doreen Adams. She calls her art process as painting with glass which puts a novel spin on the ancient mosaic art form. Her modern mosaic arts often display her passion for nature. One of her most impressive works is Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland that has various scenes from the storybook.
Jason Middlebrook, on the other hand, concentrates on site-specific outdoor installations. His project Underlife (2010–13) displayed natural objects such as tree trunks covered in mirrored glass tiles reviving the ancient mosaic art.
If you were ruminating about practicing mosaic art or infusing it in your projects, these facts about ancient mosaic art might have certainly provided you a nudge to do so.