Creating a piece of mosaic wall art for your interior will not only add a blast of beauty to your space but it will also make you part of a rich tradition of such decoration that dates back thousands of years. While evolution occurred in mosaic techniques over these generations, one of the most revolutionary was the transition occurring during the days of the Byzantine Empire (330-1453). Can you guess this one small shift that changed the course of mosaic history? Simply put: the mosaic moved from the floor to the wall.
Perfect . . . but Prostrate . . .
The ancient cultures of Greece and Rome that thrived prior to the Byzantine era perfected the art of mosaic. Developing increasingly elaborate motifs, these artists also established the regularized shape of the tesserae, which were mass-produced starting around the 2nd century BCE. This allowed for more consistent patterns and also for more intricate compositions, aligning the accuracy of mosaics to painted works in terms of the complexity of their visual programs. These cultures greatly advanced the field of mosaic design, but their vision was restricted to patterns rendered in varieties of elegant marble and stone. This was in part their effort to blend the decadence of richly-colored marblewith increased durability: though some decorated walls, the vast majority of mosaics in ancient Greece and Rome were intended for the floor, so the use ofstronger materials meant a longer life of the mosaic.
From Magnificent Marble to Glistening Glass
The arrival of the Byzantine age, however, ushered in the exploration of new media for mosaics by expanding upon the visual traditions of their Greco-Roman heritage. The goal of these Byzantine artists was to create the sensation of illuminated interiors, so they knew that whatever material with which they covered their walls had to be reflective (to pick up the glow of candle light). Of course, glass is reflective, and so these artists began experimenting by elevating frescoes from floors to walls and studding them not with bits of marble but rather with tinted and at times gilded glass tesserae. So adept were these artists that they experimented with forms of paste (colored glass) to create the illusion that these mosaics were rendered glimmering gems rather than mere glass. Resulting was spectacular and seemingly opulent mosaic wall art that glistened and seemingly moved in the flicker of a candle’s glow. These compositions complemented the continued tradition of marble mosaic floors to create some of the most opulent interiors imaginable.
As you begin to design or install your mosaic wall art, don’t be afraid to go glam!Marble- mosaics add an immediate sense of elegance to a room. If you don’t want to make too big a splash, you can simply choose glass tile, whose smooth shine will add crispness as well as class. For the more adventurous, make like a Byzantine artisan and craft your own glass paste tesserae, which is guaranteed add a layer of luxury to your wall.
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