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To Transform Emotions Into Colour: Giulio Menossi

Giulio Menossi "Notturno" (Nightly) 2010 80 x 120 x 10 cm Smalti, golds, pearls, marble. Selected for Mosaic Art NOW's Exhibition in Print 2010 by Dr. Scott Shields, Curator, Crocker Art Museum.

With the voice of a poet, Maestro Giulio Menossi speaks here about what inspires him as an artist working in mosaic. His ouevre is characterized by elegant, sweeping structural arcs always emblazoned with color, color, color.  There is a joie de vivre and playfulness here derived from slashes of color that look like they could have been made by crayons and his completely uncensored use of materials.  Lego pieces snuggle up to pearls; smalti and marble provide the background for a bunch of twigs.  What life!  What fun!

Born in Udine, a small town in northeast Italy, Menossi moved to Milan at the age of 18 where he began three years of tutelage under mosaic maestro Domenico Coledani.  In the early 1970s, Menossi broadened his mosaic expertise at Crovatto Mosaics in New York.  In 1976, he returned to his beloved Udine to establish his own studio where, in addition to completing commissions, he developed his own rich and expressive mosaic technique.  

This article first appeared in Mosaïque Magazine n°4.  We are grateful to the magazine’s publishers and Maestro Menossi for the opportunity to reprint it here on MAN.   We highly recommend the magazine which now comes with an English translation insert.  Ordering information is in the Resources portion at the end of this article.  Enjoy – Nancie 

To Transform Emotions into Colour

(Translation from Italian to French by Dominque Annarelli.  Translation into English by Sophie Drouin)

I was born on a well-bordered land and grew up among mulberry trees and fields of herbs, walking the land of my ancestors and breathing in the wind coming from the sea.

I had the good luck to meet a good Teacher, a Master, along the way. He raised me, shaped me, and prepared me for the colourful road I was about to take. Nothing was easy. The Master, the tears, my stubborn will to go on. I learned the ancient art of finely shaped tesserae, and fought every day with my desire to go back home to my mulberries.

37 years ago, I came back to this land of barbarian invasions, of antique cities, of perfumed wines, and I live here passionately. 
Nothing tells the story of an artist better than his own works. For those able to see it, there is the story of a long road. As with all lengthy paths, mine had its share of heroic and tragic adventures and escapes, meetings, rests, smiles, tears, dreams and nightmares.

My fingers have run through millions of tesserae. I have created harmonious tales from shards of glass, I have robbed snowflakes to use their crystals, handled strange materials, crumbled colourful marble, trying to tell a story.

When for the sake of a commission, I had to replicate famous works, I did not waver in front of the colours. I copied, learning from the Masters, I tried to remove myself fro the process, simply applying technique. And when the right moment came, the colours would flow out by themselves.

Then, like a springtime stream fed by the rains, the forces of colour toppled everything. It modified ancient ways, creating new sensations, amplifying, stirring new energies.

"Primavera" (Spring) 2012 100 x 100 cm Smalti, vitreous glass, pearls, millefiori, small branches, Lego pieces.

After many years, I am still working and playing with heart and spirit. It is the most wonderful gift I could ever dream of. 
After vanquishing the fear of colour, of large-scale works, slowly I felt growing in me a consciousness, deliberately affirming its will. My mosaics were not merely copies anymore, but constructs with very precise foundations, they were spaces where I could feel comfortable and free to improvise.

"Primavera" Detail

Today, I am absolutely sure of this one thing: how I must build my new mosaics.

"Primavera" Detail

And everything comes to me spontaneously, without drawings, sketching, or preparation, before ; I can simply paint with glass.

"Primavera" Detail

To transform emotions into colours which go where my heart wants to send them, in a completely improvisational manner.

With these dynamic mosaics of mine, discovery awaits every time, even for me.

"Filo di Arianna" (Wire Arianna) 2011 70 x 175 cms. Smalti, vitreous glass, pearls, wire.

The first signs come during the creation of the substrate which starts pulling me in a flow of sensations, dreams, and harmonies of shapes.

The sculptural substrate lives in its own aura of light, and would survive well even without the addition of the bright mosaic additions.

"Estate: La strada delle farfalle" (Summer: The road of the butterflies) 100 x 100 cm Smalti, vitreous glass, pearls, millefiori, Lego pieces

I open my windows to light, doors long kept shut, I travel dark dusty corridors opening curtains and screens, I seek to fill every hidden angle, to flood the darkness with brilliant light.

"Summer" Detail

The dynamic mosaics represent for me at the same time a starting point and a finish line, an arrival.  An arrival because because after a life spent walking on shards of glass and pricking my fingers, now I can say that I have accomplished one of my dreams.  Arrival because I wanted to see movement in mosaic, colour, tesserae, shapes….now everything is in motion, alive !

"Estate" (Summer) Detail

It is a starting point because I have still so many dreams, like children who must be caught in the act, or flights to be fancied.

Starting point because dynamism is life, space to be filled, momentum, the contrast between light and shadow.

"Estate" (Summer) Detail

And so the mosaic has become the living thing, and the art becomes one with the person who experiences it. Someone viewing it, and changing the angle of view by even a single step, transforms the art into something new.

He or she becomes ART as well.

My path has led me as far as this ! Where will I go from here, if and how ? I do not know. I only know that this marvellous art form offers a wondrous creative experience, a beautiful metaphor for life.

Giulio Menossi   March 2012


If you liked this article, we highly recommend this edition of Mosaïque which also includes articles on Pascale Beauchamps, Valeria Ercolani, Jérome Gulon, CaCO3, Verdiano Marzi, Elaine Goodwin, ancient mosaics, the history of smalti and much more.


Guilio Menossi "Noturrno" (Nightly) Notturno (Nightly) Giulio Menossi (Italy) 80h x 120w x 10d cm. Smalti, golds, pearls, marble.


"Primavera" (Spring) 2012 100 x 100 cm Smalti, vitreous glass, pearls, millefiori, small branches, Lego pieces.


"Primavera" Detail


"Primavera" Detail


"Primavera" Detail


"Filo di Arianna" 2011 70 x 175 cms. Smalti, vitreous glass, pearls.

GuilioMenossiESTATE La strada delle farfalle I

"Estate: La strada delle farfalle" (Summer: The road of the butterflies) 100 x 100 cm Smalti, vitreous glass, pearls, millefiori, Lego pieces


"Summer" Detail


"Estate" (Summer) Detail


"Estate" (Summer) Detail



Guilio Menossi "Noturrno" (Nightly) Notturno (Nightly) Giulio Menossi (Italy) 80h x 120w x 10d cm. Smalti, golds, pearls, marble. "Primavera" (Spring) 2012  100 x 100 cm  Smalti, vitreous glass, pearls, millefiori, small branches, Lego pieces. "Primavera"  Detail "Primavera" Detail "Primavera" Detail "Filo di Arianna"  2011  70 x 175 cms.  Smalti, vitreous glass, pearls. "Estate: La strada delle farfalle"  (Summer:  The road of the butterflies) 100 x 100 cm  Smalti, vitreous glass, pearls, millefiori, Lego pieces "Summer"  Detail "Estate" (Summer) Detail "Estate" (Summer) Detail GiulioMenossi

Share this article


  1. Fernanda Tollemeto

    Luci e forme si intrecciano in un connubio di gioiosi contrasti, conquiste e ritmi, alla ricerca di nuovi spazi da vivere, amare e custodire.

  2. Fernanda Tollemeto

    Un connubio di luci e di forme si intrecciano in un gioioso gioco, alla ricerca di contrasti e di incontri da scoprire e da vivere.

  3. Fernanda Tollemeto

    Un connubio di luci e di forme si intrecciano, in un gioioso gioco, alla ricerca di contrasti e di incontri da scoprire e da vivere.


    Quando mais pesquiso e olho as obras, mas
    fico apaixonada pelo seu trabalho…
    Eh muito forte a sua emoção…
    e repleta de sentimento …
    pura vibração, vida!!!

  5. Margy Cottingham

    Having been on Julie Richey’s Mosaic Tour this year in Italy. I was so fortunate to have had the honor and privilege to be in the company or Maestro Menossi and tour his studio. His work is so alive in color and movement. It is full of surprise, and yes, heart. I could look over his pieces again and again and still find something I missed the previous times. Maestro Menossi was so generous and kind I loved every moment we spent with him. I love the article I will read it again.

  6. Lynn Adamo

    Having just been part of the group who was privileged to spend time in Maestro Menossi’s studio, in restaurants, and having him give us an expert guided tour of the mosaics at Aqueila, I was thrilled to read his poetic words! In his presence, you can see and feel the creative, poetic and artistic energy bubbling out of him. My biggest regret is that I am not fluent in Italian! To understand the words coming from his mouth, expressing the feelings in his heart directly would have deepened the experience. Alas— we are grateful to our friend Julie Richey for translating for us, and to be able to have this article, translated—twice!— by Dominique and Sophie so we lanquage-challenged folks can share in the experience.

  7. elio varutti

    Menossi is a great artist. The mosaics make us dream. He builds exceptional works in space. He is really good!

  8. Betty Cleffman Hager

    This was such a moving article. I echo those who acknowledge the colorful, poetic language with which Maestro Menossi tells the story of his art. And it’s translated – into English by another gifted mosaic artist! As other have commented, I will read this again. And again. Many thanks for making this available.

    • Nancie

      Agreed all the way around, Betty. And thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. It is much appreciated.

  9. jim bachor

    gotta love incorporating legos! (but they may be more expensive to use than smalti)

  10. Karin Wainwright

    This writing is beautiful and I very much enjoyed reading these picturesque words. I too was lucky at having met Maestro Menossi along my way. What fantastic work and inspirational words.

  11. Suzanne Demeules

    Ahh, the art of mosaics and poetry together, lovely. I am thrilled to be taking the class with Giulio in July at CMS.

  12. Jeroen

    Emotion in motion, italian poetry in shape and colour, this artist can make precicely what he wants because he has also the skills of a meastro!
    I’m impressed…Bravo Giulio!

  13. Julee Latimer

    An inspiring and beautifully written article which I will keep and read again. Giulio’s abstract works are evocative and nothing short of incredible.

  14. Bad enough that he’s SUCH a brilliantly inventive and accomplished artist, but his way with language – even in translation – puts him over the edge. Good thing I’m not an envious person!

  15. Beautiful work. I would love to see a description of the creation of the bases for these mosaics. What does he use to make the raised sections? Is it aerolam (sp?) or Wedi board? Or what? How does he put it together and prepare either for hanging or a base? The technical aspects would really help those of us who want to expand our repertory.

    • Roe

      Yes I agree, it would be very interesting to know.

  16. As always, Maestro Menossi expresses the interior of his artistic journey so beautifully. As an artist, his words are certainly inspiring; they are also humbling but there is liberation in that humbling. He has been creating mosaics for over 35 years. It was some time before “… like a springtime stream fed by the rains, the forces of colour toppled everything.” My goodness! I can relax and not give a thought to creating masterpieces; I can stop striving and trying to prove anything. This mastery stuff takes time.

  17. So very poetic – Menossi’s work is so exuberant, so joyous. I love this line: ” I have robbed snowflakes to use their crystals” *sigh!*

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