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The mosaic art

Province of Ravenna

Arte Musiva - Detail Ravenna

The mosaic was probably conceived in the Sumerian age about 2.500 years B.C. and became very wide spread in Greece, during the Ellenistic kingdoms and the Roman Empire, first as floor decoration and then as wall decoration. However, the Paleochristian Art and, particularly, the Byzantine Art, fully exploited the peculiarity of the mosaic language.

The mosaics in Ravenna are made up of tesserae with different shapes, with varying inclination and depth, thus being different from the ones in Venice and Rome, which are flat and smooth because of the tesserae used, almost even. The surface of the Ravenna mosaics is rough, to retain or reflect the light according to the position of the viewer.

In the town are eight UNESCO monuments, seven of which are decorated with beautiful mosaics and this art is still handed down and taught in schools and workshops of craftsman-artists.

Since the half of the 20th century, a flow of relations between master and apprentice has started, contributing to many exchanges and collaborations through schools that fulfilled the task to hand down the basic knowledge of the mosaic heritage.

This tradition, which is unique, is still lively at international level, thanks to creators, artists and restorers. There are several ateliers, in the old town centre or in rural areas, where worldwide known mosaicists like Ines Morigi Berti, Marco Bravura, Felice Nittolo, Alessandra Caprara, Enzo Scianna, Luciana Notturni, Silvana Costa, Isotta Fiorentini Roncuzzi work.

The town is full of contemporary mosaic works, like those in the Art Museum (MAR) with a permanent exhibition of drafts by the best artists of the 50s such Afro and Chagall, Saetti, Moreni and Vedova, that have been transformed into mosaics by the Ravennate School.


The wall mosaics of the Futurist School manufactured by the most important masters like Signorini, Rocchi, Morigi Berti, Focaccia e Musini date back to the 40s and are kept in the museum located in the ex Palazzo del Mutilato.

In the Parco della Pace, the mosaic becomes a piece of urban furniture. A permanent exhibition was opened in 1984 following a project outlined by an Artistic Committee chaired Giulio Carlo Argan. Here it is possible to appreciated the works by Paladino, Saetti, Carter, Coupe, Deru, Kournokhov, Mally, Rahir, Schaffrath, transformed by mosaicists into tesserae.

In the Speyer Gardens a vertical mosaic element has been erected, following a project by Enzo Pezzi, in 2003 and in Piazza della Resistenza it is possible to appreciate the big fountain Ardea Purpurea, which is identical to the one gifted to the city of Beirut, projected and manufactured by Marco Bravura in 2004 with the collaboration of the trainees in the Provincial Consortium for Vocational Training.

Ravenna has been promoting mosaic abroad for more than ten years with an exhibition comprising a collection of 200 copies of ancient pieces, moving all around Europe.

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Last modified Oct 28, 2013

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