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Exploring the Universal Appeal of Rhythm, Repetition and Novelty in Mosaics

On 20, Aug 2009 | 2 Comments | In Uncategorized | By man-admin

In a recent edition of his “Twice-Weekly Newsletter”, artist, traveler, writer and teacher Robert Genn referenced a book by Daniel J. Levitin, This is Your Brain on Music. Genn took a major concept from the book — the universal appeal of rhythm, repetition and noveltyin music — and looked at the place these three elements hold in visual art.We thought it might be interesting to explore these concepts from a mosaic perspective , so we went to the 2009 edition of our magazine to look for illustrations. To say the least, it was a very interesting exercise. Not surprising, we found that all of our examples contained at least two of these concepts, if not all three. Take a look yourself and tell us what you think. We welcome your feedback and perspectives.

The quotes are all Genn’s. More on him and his treasure trove of artful inspiration at the end of this post.



“Rhythm is an elemental force in human nature. In visual art the moving brush and the wandering eye are directed toward harmonious cycles and shapes that amuse and satisfy. This rhythm is between curves and flats, protrusions and recessions, crudeness and delicacy, patterns and amorphousness, lines and forms. As in music, the list goes on.”

Risorgiva Giulio Menossi. 98 cm x 72 cm 7 10 cm
Smalti, glass Stones

What’s not rhythmical about this work? “Protrusions, recessions, crudeness and delicacy” – it’s all there.


“Three Graces” Irina Charny. 48″ x 24″
Stone, gold, glass, beads pearls.
(photo by Ben Charney)

Can’t you just feel the rhythm of their dance? Every line provides a beat and flow to the eye — from the overall form of the image to whole sections of hair and textiles.

“Concentration” Jinet Mosaique 18″ x 12″
Marble, smalti, vitreous glass.
Your eye just can’t stop wandering in “Concentration”. Try to focus on just one area. You can’t. The rhythm of the andamento carries you away.


Repetition is one of those strangely satisfying curiosities that somehow helps us feel rewarded and secure. Repeated motifs, themes and stylistic peculiarities give a ‘beat’ to visual art that seduces the eye and brings it back for more. Far from being boring, repetition is the grid on which higher themes may fly.”

“Premonitions (of a Luna Moth Caterpillar)” Maylee Christie
90 cm x 80 cm x 80 cm
Smalti, stained glass, semi precious stones, gold

It was intriguing to find that in this work it is intricate pattern that is the repetition that attracts, holds, and delights us.

“Truth and Beauty Series #2” Rachel Sagar 24″ x 12″
Smalti, gold smalti, copper wire.

Repetition creates a powerful and strong elegance in this work that is enormously appealing.

“We” Jacqueline Iskander 15″ x 22″
24kt gold smalti, marble, porcelain, glass, quartz, mother of pearl, pearls, selenite, Swarovski crystals, 22 kt gold seed beads, wood.

We felt both “We” and Lynn Moor’s “Black in Blue” are perfect examples of “repetition on which higher themes may fly”. In this case, it is the backgrounds, intricate in themselves, that provide the grounding for higher themes.

“Black in Blue” Lynn Moor 11″ x 11″
Orsoni smalti and mosaic gold


“At the same time, the human brain and eye lovenovelty. Something new around the corner — a surprise, a jolt out of the normal — arrests our flow and gives a sudden flush of wonder and joy. In the evenness that describes so much of life, humanity craves the bump of novelty.”

“Patricia at Rest” Brooks Tower 11″ x 12.5″
Travertine, onyx, marble, glass, bone, twigs, gold foil, ammonites, plastic straw, beach stone, ceramic, tumbled stone bits.

Brooks Tower trades in the novel — pushing mosaic boundaries
and emotional buttons in every work.

“Pelican” Conny van der Wende 45 cm x 30 cm
Smalti, glass fusion, ceramic elements

It is all about that eye, isn’t it?

“La voie des Songes Iule Amado-Fischgrund 35cm x 60 cm
Marble, granite, smalti, glass paste, glazed ceramic, copper, feathers.

Feathers artfully coexisting with stone and granite?
The juxtaposition is not only novel, it works.

“All Alone Against All” Piotr Czapracki 101 cm x 90 cm
Hand-made ceramic tesserae.

A joyful child against an impact-cracked background.
What could be a greater “jolt out of the normal”?

On another note, Genn also provides an invaluable peak into the juryroom that is definitely food for thought this “submission season.”

“Coincidentally, on recent (art) jury duty I was paying attention to the choices of my fellow jurors. For the most part, they chose art that was not necessarily technically competent or perfectly rendered. What held the juror’s attention and received the highest number of votes was work that appeared to me to overflow with rhythm, repetition and novelty.”

Huge thanks to Robert Genn for allowing us to play around with one of his thought-provoking Twice-Weekly Newsletters. We highly recommend all of his communications streams. They are informative, inspirational and just plain fun.

To subscribe to Genn’s Newsletter and communicate with artists around the world, click here

For daily updates and links to art info, ideas, inspiration as well as “unmitigated creative fun” click here

We’d love to hear from you on Rhythm, Repetition and Novelty in mosaics. Talk back, why don’t you?

Enjoy — Nancie

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  1. Ketary

    very nice works!

  2. Paul Anater

    What a great exercise and what a cool excuse to linger over the work in Mosaic Art Now. The theme of repetition being a grid from which higher themes can fly has given me particular pause. Thank you.