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Mosaic vs. Tile Art: Everything You Need to Know

Mosaic vs. Tile Art:

Everything You Need to Know

Mosaics are a popular type of modern art piece, created by carefully arranging small bits of hard material in order to piece together a larger picture.  Mosaics can be vast and sprawling, spanning the side of an entire building, or small enough to fit inside a home, no larger than a picture you might hang on the wall.  When a mosaic is composed of tile, the piece as a whole is sometimes referred to as “tile art.”

This convention, however, creates ambiguity, as mosaics are not the only type of work that fall under the umbrella of “tile art.”  Individual decorated tiles are also a common art form; so are small arrangements of tile with a painted pattern or image on top.

Though any arrangement of more than one piece of tile technically could be considered a mosaic, generally it makes sense to refer only to works of art composed of many small pieces as mosaics; their many smaller pieces, arranged into an image, are what set mosaics apart.  This leaves other art forms consisting of fewer or single painted tiles with the name “tile art.”

Mosaic-Tile-Art

Both art forms can be detailed, beautiful and intriguing; many pieces today are of great emotional, spiritual, or historic significance.

Mosaic-Tile

This article is an exploration of the origins of two time-honored art forms and an attempt to understand the difference between both, and thus how Mosaic and Tile Art had documented and shaped history!

Brief History of Mosaic Art

For thousands of years, people have been ornamenting different surfaces with a complex blend of small pieces, creating structure from the arrangement of individual, often tiny pieces.

The term “mosaic” has its origins in the Latin term “musaicum,” which means “work of the Muses.”  The pieces that composed a mosaic were traditionally small tiles known as “tesserae,” but today mosaics are made of small pieces of a variety of materials.

History-Of-Mosaics

The first recorded accounts of this art form are the mosaics of ancient Mesopotamia.  These were made from sandstone, shell, and ivory, and first appeared 3500 years ago.

Mosaic-Art-History

Brief History of Tile Art

Stone, glass, and ceramic tiles were frequently used to adorn Islamic mosques and palaces.  The rise of the Muslim Empire led to the spread of this art form from North Africa and the Middle Eastthrough Europe. This tile art often depicted nothing more than geometric figures, and took advantage of differently shaped tiles to produce different patterns and motifs.

Mosaic-Tile-Art-Ancient

The use of tile in general goesback a very long time. Ceramic tile has existed for over12 thousand years, though it was not developed into an art form until much more recently.

Some of the most famous examples of Islamic tile art are at the Alhambra, a historic palace in Spain, at the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, and at the Jameh Masjid in Iran.

The word “tile” is derived from the French word “tuile,” which isin turn derived from the Latin word “tegula,”meaning a roof tile composed of fired clay.  This reflects the idea that tile art is generallya decorative art form that is combined with other architectural elements.

Mosaic-Mosque

Today, tile art is used to cover roofs, floors, walls, ceilings,and other surfaces such as the top of a table. Tiles are appropriate for applications where solidity is necessary, such as floor inserts. They are resistant to moisture and discoloration, preventing damage which may become hard or impossible to remove. Most of all, tile art helps add character to the interior of a space.

Variety Of Tiles

There is a number of different types of tile available today, which vary in characteristics and cost. İznik tile is the best known type of modern tile.

Tile-Art-Iznik

• The Revival of Iznik

400 years after they originated,Turkey has successfully restored the production of İznik tiles ata level of quality that matches the originals.  Modern production incorporates some of the ancient traditional methods of the 16th and 17th century.

Mosaic-Tile-Art-Modern

What is the key difference between Mosaic Art and Tile Art ?

Although it is not entirely incorrect to use the terms “tile art” and “mosaic” interchangeably, tile art is a more general art form that revolves around the incorporation of tile into an existing architectural work.  This could be the side of a building, a wall, a floor, a ceiling, or even a pattern painted on a single tile in a tiled floor.

The term “mosaic” is much more specific; a mosaic is a type of dedicated art piece that is created by combining many small, hard pieces into a larger whole.  Although mosaics may also found in walls, floors and ceilings, they are meant to stand on their own instead of complimenting the architecture of a room or building.  It would be accurate to consider mosaics a specific type tile art with a concentrated focus.

Mosaic-Handmade-Geometric

On the contrary, “Tile Art” is characteristically known as a decorative art form”or”architectural antique. The dictionary definition of Tiles is: a thin slab or bent piece of baked clay, sometimes painted or glazed, used for various purposes, to create one of the units of a roof covering, floor, or revetment.

Mosaic-Tile-Art-Pattern-Modern

• Comparison 

Tile Art and Mosaic Art are both a great option. Tile art is widely used for creating stylish patterns on floors while Mosaic Art is a perfect option for figurative art pieces and applications on walls and floors.

Which tile is better to purchase often depends on your needs and personal preferences.

Marble-Mosaic-Artwork-Mosaico

Mosaics and Tile Art Today 

Today, the abstract and geometric designs of tile art are more common than representational designs and portraits found in mosaics. The tile art form has evolved from a dedicated artistic craft to a more complimentaryone. Even true mosaics in the present have a greater focus on new ways of incorporating the medium into modern society, and today casual architectural tile art pieces far outnumber modern mosaics.  But both are distinct and meaningful art forms, treasured in the past and present.

Colourful shingles front Assemble's Yardhouse studios for east London creatives

Colorful Shingles Front Assemble’s Yardhouse – East London

 

Got inspired by reading this article ?

You May Also Want To Read: 

Istanbul: The Tile Art Story

CLOSER LOOK AT MOSAIC PIETRA DURA

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Chantal Menhem

Chantal Menhem

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  1. […] found this great article,  it helped me understand what style I would like to do. I find that both art forms are very […]

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