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Exhibits & Museums

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The Mosaics of Odorico

On 28, Jul 2009 | One Comment | In Artists, Exhibits & Museums, Modern | By man-admin

This is another one of those discoveries that makes us wish we had unlimited frequent flyer miles.

The Brittany Museum, part of Les Champ Libres in Rennes, France has an absolutely stunning show running through January 3, 2010 that chronicals the history of the Odorico Company. This prolific mosaic-making firm was founded by a Friuli transplant in late 1800′s and in the 1920′s and became the most active mosaic participant in the art deco movement.

Les Champ Libres has done an absolutely first-rate job of creating a website that virtually puts you in the middle of the exhibit. Seriously. I said, “OH!” out loud. It also provides wonderful information on materials and techniques, albeit in French. The illustrations are precise and humorous. Don’t miss the hammer and hardie driven explanation of materials. We have included a video from the exhibit below.

From the museum’s website:

“Mosaics made by the Odorico company can be seen on the facades of public buildings and shops and inside some of the finest houses in the west of France. The Saint-Georges swimming pool in Rennes, the Maison Bleue (Blue House) in Angers, the public bath house in Laval or the Gilbert pâtisserie in Saint-Brieuc… All of these Art deco monuments are decorated with sumptuous mosaics that honour the colourful and glittering memory of Odorico, a family firm that opened in Rennes in 1882 and plied its trade until 1978.

The exhibition traces the artistic and commercial fortunes of the Odorico family, Italian immigrants who left their native Friuli region at the end of the 19th century amid the financial crisis gripping Italy at the time.

The first generation of the family – brothers Isidore and Vincent – developed a large scale mosaic making business based on an original process known as the indirect method. After the First World War, the second generation – Isidore and Vincent – raised the company’s simple mosaics to the level of works of art, shining symbols of the art deco movement.

By inter-twining an intimate family story with the Odorico’s work building some of the regions richest cultural heritage, the exhibition tells a story of people, craftsmanship and some truly amazing creations.

From a historical point of view it covers the main steps in the economic development of the company. It also allows visitors to take a practical look at the mosaic maker’s art by re-creating the atmosphere of the Odorico company’s workshops, showing the technical advances and creative flair that allowed the company to leave its distinctive mark in cities right across the west of France. In addition the exhibition includes sketches and technical drawings showing how Odorico’s mosaics were planned for different kinds of buildings: shops, municipal bath houses, crèches, hospitals.

Since 1979, the Brittany Museum has had in its collections around a thousand drawings and sketches for mosaic designs that were donated by the last director of the Odorico company, Pierre Janvier. The images attest to the quality and variety of mosaics developed in the Odorico workshops and they have never before been put on public display.

The exhibition also has a number of documents and objects from private collections as well as decorative mosaic panels (from shops, post offices, swimming pools), films and a re-created workshop.

Mosaics made by the Odorico company can be seen on the facades of public buildings and shops and inside some of the finest houses in the west of France. This exhibition has a symbolic significance. It pays long overdue credit to an exceptional part of the region’s cultural heritage which is both familiar yet often poorly understood.

The company’s mosaics are a symbol of the family’s successful integration and and of artistic excellence.

Today the damage caused by pollution and property development are endangering this regional heritage. The exhibition is designed to appeal to all, whatever their age and it alms to attract as many visitors as possible in order to support efforts to protect the these unique mosaics.”

Here is a video from the exhibit in Rennes.

We weren’t kidding. You simply must check out these Brittany Museum links:

To see the presentation on materials, methods, and history, click:
The virtual tours are a little tricky, but worth following directions. After you click on the links below, wait for the background photo to fully load. Then press the forward arrow at the bottom of the graphic box and you’re good to go. Good luck! Or should we say, Bon Chance?

For basic information on museum hours and how to get there, click

* * * * *

One final note — We did a little more sleuthing and learned that Domenico Odorico emigrated to the US and carried on the family trade outside of Philadelphia. Sadly, he passed away in 2008. A quote from his obituary,

“By the time Mr. Odorico arrived in Phildelphia in 1962 he was already a master artisan who had created and installed several church murals in Austria, worked for seven years for his grandfather in Copenhagen, and worked on several projects in Canada, including the St. Anne de Beaupre Cathedral outside Quebec City.”

His son Rinaldo continues the family tradition with Odorico Construction Company in Pennsylvania.

Enjoy — Nancie

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  1. Anonymous

    I found this site-
    It is in Portuguese but this is what some parts says-
    Gist: In the nineteenth century the Italian Gian Domenico Facchina will revolutionize the art of mosaic making in very short-term major works musiva the Opera de Paris. Your studio will send to Brazil in 1908, ten very rich mosaic panels that are well preserved in the labyrinths of the Teatro Municipal of Rio de Janeiro, but inaccessible to the general public.
    It seems these are still not on show to the public and some are damaged..what a shame..a wonderful story thanks for sharing this families wonderful mosaic art.
    Jacqui Douglas

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