Aesthetic Exploration – Mosaics

Mosaics are a style of art the creates a picture by using small pieces of colored stone or glass as the medium. The origins of this art style traces back to Mesopotamia, around the 3rd millennium BC. Later in the 4th century BC, they became popular in the Greek culture, usually depicting an aspect of the Greek mythological stories. Below is an example of these types of mosaics with a depiction of the Greek god Poseidon.


This aesthetic was also quite popular in the Roman Empire, occasionally as wall adornments, but more commonly as floor decorations within their villas. These mosaics contained images of many different things, ranging from mythological stories, gladiators, as well as Roman sporting activities. Being that these were generally for the rich, they had great detail and size, with a few being as long as 200 ft.

After the Roman empire, the mosaic remained very popular in different religions, used as decorations for their place of worship. Christianity adapted the practice as a form of wall and ceiling adornment for many of their churches, especially the larger basilicas. The mosaics were used to depict different biblical events, as well as important church figures, such as the saints.


This practice started back in the late 4th century AD, and continues today in the larger basilicas and other churches. Christianity wasn’t the only religion to adopt it as a form of adornment, as seen below, in the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

In the Islamic use of the mosaic style, it was more common to be used for artistic patterns as opposed to a depiction of a particular scene. The mosaic did appear in many of the ancient Islamic Mosques, but it lost popularity after the 8th century AD.

Having started in the ancient world, mosaics have continued to evolve and are still present today in our culture. They appear in works of art, decorations, digital art, as well as street art. A common practice is that of making a mosaic image out of other existing images.

It is even going as far to inspire different street artists, such as one named Invader, who mixes the ancient art form with the nostalgic 8-bit of the classic video game, Space Invaders.


Mosaics are an intriguing form of art, one that has been with humanity for most of its civilized existence. One of the more fascinating things about it is the medium that is used to create one. The whole premise is to take individual pieces, stones, that may not necessarily be beautiful in and of themselves, and to use them jointly with many other stones. The combination of all these bits and pieces amounts to a large, coherent, and beautiful work of art. It’s the idea of taking small imperfect pieces to create a masterpiece that generates the intrigue of this aesthetic.


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3 Comments. Leave new

  • Morgan Benninger
    February 4, 2019 1:42 pm

    I never knew the origination of mosaics, I enjoyed this crash course in the history of this art form. It’s interesting that mosaics were used in a variety of different cultures for different purposes. I never realized the mosaics were used to coat the entire outside of Mosques. It’s a really beautiful technique for decorating the outside of a building and adds a depth and complexity you don’t find with paint.

  • Joseph Coulombe
    January 27, 2019 11:38 pm

    Mosaics to me always remind me of resolutions of a picture. The more of the medium you use, the better the resolution. The fact that you can also use any medium leaves room for a lot of creativity, I saw a video where a guy used thrown out key boards to create his own mosaics. He only sanded the keys but left them in their color having bins of various shades to help create his pieces.

  • Fatema Alhalal
    January 27, 2019 7:18 pm

    I liked it and I feel this kind of aesthetic will never gets old. I have seen a lot of the Islamic mosaic and they’re really mind-blowing. Iran has a specific kind of mosaic that used in their mosques and it’s amazing that you can actually distinguish it! For example, many countries uses it in Iranian restaurants and people will immediately know what kind of food they serve! Also, rubik’s cubes has a different level of mosaic and I think you will be interested to look them up. The idea of making something using a cube that has six colors and you can play with its order to help the design is definitely amazing!


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