Decorating With Mosaics
Find out the real story behind the mosaic artform -- and how today's trendsetters use them at home.
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It’s true that taking the subway is bound to leave some kind of impression on you — and not always positive. Yet I’ve always been stimulated by the music, the fashions, the posters, the life on the subway, but — after more than a decade away — I’d forgotten all about the art, from ceramic plaques and impressive tile work to massive mosaics.
Since its inception more than a century ago the mandate for the subway system was "that it be designed, constructed and maintained with a view to the beauty of its appearance as well as its efficiency." Since 1986, the beauty quotient has been upped as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has commissioned more than 170 works for its stations, among them many mosaics including Transitions by Louis Delsarte, which first caught my eye.
The fact that the subway was, literally, like a mosaic museum got me interested all over again in the artform. Like many people, I have a box full of broken dishes (alas, some of my favorite Fiestaware that didn’t survive an earthquake) that I have vowed — someday — to turn into a backsplash, patio table or other decorative item for my home. Part of the fascination with the artform is its age, of course. When something has endured from 800 B.C. when the Greeks were making patterns with pebbles, and includes religious iconography that takes your breath away, it’s got some artistic clout. The biggest part of mosaics’ appeal, though, is its ability to tell stories. Here’s a look at how modern-day mosaics are telling tales from train stations to kitchen counters.