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BiblioMosaico: The Book as a Muse for Mosaic

Verdiano Marzi “Pinnochi” 2011 (Italy)

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”                                                                                                                –  Jorge Luis Borges

Surely, Book Paradise will look something like this . . .


National Library of Latvia at Riga   Photo: Rosetta Berardi

Photo Rosetta Berardi

. . .  the stunning National Library of Latvia in Riga designed by Gunnar Birkerts, current home of BiblioMosaico, a collection of mosaics devoted to The Book created by some of the medium’s modern masters.

Photo Rosetta Berardi

Bibliomosaico is the brainchild of Rosetta Berardi, editor at Edizioni del Girasole, a specialty publisher of art books based in Ravenna, Italy.  Berardi conceived the exhibit in 2009 in conjunction with the first RavennaMosaico, the International Festival of Contemporary Mosaics.  That year, Berardi invited nine artists to “reflect on the form of books, on the representation of a book as an object that wants to be looked at but not read, a book that is ‘not a book’, a book which may have lots its words but gained a specific conceptional meaning as an open work of art.”

Toyoharu Kii "Crime Report - Testimony" 2013 (Japan)

Toyoharu Kii “Crime Report – Testimony” 2013 (Japan)

Since then, over 50 artists have participated in Bibliomosaico and now 34 of their works are scattered throughout the Riga Library where visitors will discover them hidden in the stacks, reclining on book trolleys and displayed on shelves.

Nikos Tolis "Volume arte mosaico" (Mosaic Art Volume) 2013 (Greece)

Nikos Tolis “Volume Arte Mosaico” (Mosaic Art Volume) 2013 (Greece)

Sophie Drouin "Censure" 2013 (Canada)

Sophie Drouin “Censure” 2013 (Canada)

Some of the mosaics are quite literal, like Verdiano Marzi’s Pinocchi or Sophie Drouin’s Censure.  Others, like Gerard Brand’s Six Pages in Lace and Samantha Holmes’ Absence  pay homage to Ravenna’s Byzantine mosaic heritage in new and intriguing ways.

Gérard Brand "Sei Pagine in Pizzo" (Six Pages in Lace) 2013 (France)

Gérard Brand “Sei Pagine in Pizzo” (Six Pages in Lace) 2013 (France)

Samantha Holmes "Absence (Mobile)" 2013 (USA)

Samantha Holmes “Absence (Mobile)” 2013 (USA)

This current showing of Bibliomosaico is part of a larger mosaic-centered exchange between Riga, the current Cultural Capital for the European Union and Ravenna, which is vying for the title in 2019.  Also on display in the Library are large-scale reproductions of some of Ravenna’s most iconic Byzantine treasures.

Andris Vilks, Director of the Library, Ouidad Bakkali, Minister of Culture-Ravenna,  Giovanni Polizzi, Italian Ambassador

Director of the Latvian National Library Andris Vilks, Minister of Culture for Ravenna Ouidad Bakkali, Italian Ambassador Giovanni Polizzi

We were first charmed and delighted by Bibliomosaico during RavennaMosaico in 2011 and found it to be one of our top three favorite exhibitions for RavennaMosaico 2013.

Kazumi Kurihara "Il Libro Legge" (The book reads) 2011 (Japan)

Kazumi Kurihara “Il Libro Legge” (The Book Reads) 2011 (Japan)

One of our favorites from 2011 was Raniero Bittante’s Bubble Gum Italia. Three copies of the Italian constitution encrusted with red, white and green smalti adhered with used wads of bubblegum were accompanied by a video of Italians blowing bubbles. This work turned out to be far more literal than we thought at first glance.  Bittante is reflecting on the 150 years of Italy’s political unity in a classical mosaic sense – each individual, regardless of race or ethnicity, is part of the whole – like the tesserae of a mosaic.  Bubble gum as the “mortar” or glue that holds it together?  Of course.  Just think of the DNA contained in a wad of used bubble gum.  Brilliant.

Raniero Bittante "Bubble Gum Italia" 2011 (Italy)

Raniero Bittante “Bubble Gum Italia” 2011 (Italy)

We think BiblioMosaico is an absolutely splendid representation of how the medium can be used to convey powerful themes and individual expression.  We are going to leave you here with images from all three editions of BiblioMosaico and commentary by curator Berardi.  The exhibit runs through August 30th.  All photos unless noted were taken by Berardi who is also a professional photographer.  Enjoy – Nancie (And don’t forget to click to enlarge)

Felice Nittolo 2011 (Italy)

Felice Nittolo “EVOCARE” (EVOKE) 2011 (Italy)

Rosetta Berardi:

The artist’s book denies itself nothing, it can even dare to be unreadable. Every artist gives a personal interpretation of the book using the force of substance, the plasticity of structure, the diversity of materials and bringing into play his or her own sensitivity. The results are poetical objects that challenge the writing and concentrate on technique, form and harmony.

Mélanie Lanoe "Impronte" (Fingerprint) 2011  (France)

Mélanie Lanoe “Impronte” (Fingerprint) 2011 (France)

Viewers are encouraged to watch the artwork and read it on the basis of a visual grammar. The meaning of the book is expressed without words. The book, depository of the written word, changes its function: it is no longer meant to be read, but rather looked at to.

Silvia Naddeo, 2011 (Italy)

Silvia Naddeo “Storia di una Zucchina” (The Story of a Zucchini) 2009 (Italy) Photo: George Fishman

A creative exercise that involves both young and experienced artists, who engage in the production of artworks conceived for being displayed among paper books, like jewels set in a ring.

Julie Richey "Vademecum" 2014  (USA)

Julie Richey “Vade Mecum” 2014 (USA)

The exhibition was originally designed to give a look of precious elegance to a space that communicates and interacts with the works in an exemplary way.  

Atsuo Suzumura, 2011

Atsuo Suzumura “9 Libri” (9 Books), 2011 (Japan)

Mosaics fascinate us, and the subject of the book makes them even more enchanting. – Rosetta Berardi

Pamela Irving "Mr. Logomania" 2013 (Australia)

Pamela Irving “Mr. Logomania” 2013 (Australia)

Rosanna Fattorini  2009 (Italy)

Rosanna Fattorini 2009 (Italy)

Sonia King "Tabula Rasa" 2013 (USA)

Sonia King “Tabula Rasa” 2013 (USA)

Roberta Grasso, 2011 (Italy)

Roberta Grasso, 2011 (Italy)


National Library of Latvia at Riga Photo: Rosetta Berardi


Verdiano Marzi "Pinnochi" 2011 (Italy) Photo Rosetta Berardi

Works on shelves

Photo Rosetta Berardi

Luciana Notturni_Cecità - esperienza_toccante_2013RosettaBerardi

Luciana Notturni "Cecità esperienza toccante" 2013 (Italy) Photo Rosetta Berardi

Library exterior 1

Photo Rosetta Berardi


Sophie Drouin "Censure" 2013 (Canada)

Gérard Brand Six pages en dentelleFRANCIA2013photoRosettaBerardi

Gérard Brand "Sei Pagine in Pizzo" (Six Pages in Lace) 2013 (France)

Samantha Holmes

Samantha Holmes "Absence (Mobile)" 2013 (USA)


Toyoharu Kii "Crime Report - Testimony" 2013 (Japan)


Felice Nittolo


Rosanna Fattorini 2009 (Italy)




Felice Nittolo 2011 (Italy)

Nikos_ Tolis_Volume arte mosaico_2013_Photo_RosettaBerardi copy

Nikos Tolis "Volume arte mosaico" (Mosaic Art Volume) 2013 (Greece)


Andris Vilks, Director of the Library, Ouidad Bakkali, Minister of Culture-Ravenna, Giovanni Polizzi, Italian Ambassador


Kazumi Kurihara "Il Libro Legge" (The book reads) 2011 (Japan)

Julie Richey_Vademecum_2014 - USA_PhotoRosettaBerardi

Julie Richey "Vademecum" 2014 (USA)

Mélanie Lanoe_Impronte_2011 - Francia_PhotoRosettaBerardi

Mélanie Lanoe "Impronte" (Fingerprint) 2011 (France)


Silvia Naddeo, 2011 (Italy)

Atsuo Suzumura_2011_PhotoRosettaBerardi

Atsuo Suzumura, 2011

Pamela Irving

Pamela Irving "Mr. Logomania" 2013 (Australia)


Sonia King "Tabula Rasa" 2013 (USA)

Raniero Bittante

Raniero Bittante "Bubble Gum Italia" 2011 (Italy)

Roberta Grasso

Roberta Grasso, 2011 (Italy)

National Library of Latvia at Riga   Photo: Rosetta Berardi Verdiano Marzi "Pinnochi" 2011 (Italy)  Photo Rosetta Berardi Photo Rosetta Berardi Luciana Notturni "Cecità esperienza toccante" 2013 (Italy) Photo Rosetta Berardi Photo Rosetta Berardi Sophie Drouin "Censure" 2013 (Canada) Gérard Brand "Sei Pagine in Pizzo" (Six Pages in Lace) 2013 (France) Samantha Holmes "Absence (Mobile)" 2013 (USA) Toyoharu Kii "Crime Report - Testimony" 2013 (Japan) Felice Nittolo Rosanna Fattorini  2009 (Italy) Riga_Library_Interior_Rosetta_Berardi Felice Nittolo 2011 (Italy) Nikos Tolis "Volume arte mosaico" (Mosaic Art Volume) 2013 (Greece) Andris Vilks, Director of the Library, Ouidad Bakkali, Minister of Culture-Ravenna,  Giovanni Polizzi, Italian Ambassador Kazumi Kurihara "Il Libro Legge" (The book reads) 2011 (Japan) Julie Richey "Vademecum" 2014  (USA) Mélanie Lanoe "Impronte" (Fingerprint) 2011  (France) Silvia Naddeo, 2011 (Italy) Atsuo Suzumura, 2011 Pamela Irving "Mr. Logomania" 2013 (Australia) Sonia King "Tabula Rasa" 2013 (USA) Raniero Bittante "Bubble Gum Italia" 2011 (Italy) Roberta Grasso, 2011 (Italy)

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  1. Julie Richey

    Great article and wonderful photos, Rosetta! Thank you so much for inviting us to be a part, and for allowing us to step into the library and see the wonderful show.

  2. Lilian Broca

    Fantastic presentation Nancie. Love the mosaics! Thank you.

  3. Rosetta Berardi

    Thank you Nancie! Thanks so much.
    I’m happy for the success of this exhibition. Thanks to the City of Ravenna who brought the exhibition of 34 works in a space beautiful and magical. It’s a real satisfaction!

  4. Carole Choucair Oueijan

    So LOVELY!!!
    Thank you so much Nancie! So much to admire!

  5. Artemis

    Thank you Nancie, a great presentation!

  6. Lillian Sizemore

    FANTASTICO~~!! Brava Rosetta, Brava Nancie – and Bravi tutti i mosaicisti – I love seeing this work displayed in a library of such stature! I am thinking of the suspended book ceiling in the Istanbul Modern Art Museum…Perhaps Istanbul could be the next PERFECT place for such a retrospective of BiblioMosaico???? let’s make it happen!

  7. Sonia King

    Thanks so much, Nancie. I’m thrilled to have work in the exhibit. And grateful for this comprehensive article. Sharing!

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