Ravenna Historic and Contemporary Mosaic Art at the National Library
Besides having unmatched artistic value, these early Christian mosaics also provide historical evidence of the religion, government and people of a period that was highly important for the history of the European culture.
Ravenna was the centre of mosaic art in the 5th and 6th century. 1,500 years ago it was the capital of the Western Roman Empire, it then served as the capital of the Kingdom of Ostrogoths under Theoderic the Great, and later became part of the Byzantine Empire. Each of these periods in history produced a large number of religious buildings in Ravenna that were richly decorated with mosaics. Ravenna’s collection of the 5th and 6th century mosaics is unrivalled in terms of artistic quality and iconography when compared to other ancient cities. In 1997 seven Ravenna historic buildings and their mosaics were designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
At the beginning of the 1950s a group of artists from the Academy of Arts, following highly complex and scrupulous methodology, created a collection of reproductions of the ancient mosaics that, since the pilot exhibition in Paris in 1951, has travelled to many countries around the world. This year, the collection of 36 mosaics is on show in Riga, offering visitors to see every detail up close – which is impossible to do when looking at the originals in the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, Basilica of San Vitale and Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, Baptistry of Neon and Capella Arcivescovile in Ravenna.
Besides the historic Ravenna mosaics, the exhibition in Riga also presents “Bibliomosaico” – contemporary mosaic art by artists from various countries. The exhibits will be displayed on shelves in the National Library’s reading rooms from the mezzanine to the 6th floor. The exhibition “Bibliomosaico”, curated by the mosaics expert Rosetta Berardi, was created as part of the international mosaic festival “Ravenna Mosaico” with the goal of combining mosaic art and the concept of a book. A total of 34 “Bibliomosaico” works will be showcased on the National Library’s shelves.
Both exhibitions will run from the 11th of July to the 30th of August.