Florence and its surrounding areas are famous for a thriving artisan community, whose members still maintain Renaissance traditions today. Though mass tourism and a changing economy have significantly impacted the industry’s workshops, there are still numerous examples of true craftsmanship in Florence. These artisans helped make Florence one of the best loved cities in the world—their craftsmanship is a testament to artistic survival in an increasingly globalized world.
Mauro Tacconi. Precious pieces
The art of composing mosaics, works made by applying tiny plates of enamel, glass and stone of varied color onto a surface with stucco, originated in ancient Egypt and was subsequently developed in Rome beginning in the first century B.C. The apex of the medium in Florence, however, occurred during the Renaissance, when it aroused the interest of the de’ Medici family. This interest was so great that in 1588, Ferdinand I founded an institute dedicated to the collection, elaboration, study and restoration of semiprecious stone, the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, which remains an international center to this day.
The Florentine mosaic was characterized by a particular technique which required the assembly of shaped elements that followed a precise design made up of semiprecious stones, selected according to their natural color, wich form a flat pictorial composition. This complex and difficult art was later abandoned and neglected as few had the courage and the consistency (not to mention the necessary artistic skill) to maintain its traditions.
Those who have recuperated this lost art today still work exclusively with stone. The rudimentary, but technologically irreplaceable tools that guarantee a perfect smoothness are also used. In its initial phase, the elaboration of the mosaic composition requires a paper drawing done to scale.
Sections are then cut from the drawing and the search for the natural stones with the right color and shade begins. The paper sections are then glued to the respective stones and cutting begins: a wooden arch, simple iron wire and emery are the best materials to use for the cutting process. Once the pieces are cut, the application and inlay work begin and the process is concluded with an emery polish.
From a family legacy to a new vision
Mauro Tacconi is the son of renowned Florentine mosaic artist, Marco Tacconi. Born in Grassina (near Florence)—where he still lives and works today—his first exposure to the art of mosaics began during his early childhood while spending time in his father’s workshop. He began working there in 1982 where he learned cutting techniques while continuing to study the painting masters. He completed his first mosaic piece in 1984.
After some time abroad, Mauro returned to Florence in 1989 and began concentrating on renewing the classic mosaic tradition while experimenting with new techniques, including jewelry making. After several showings of his work, in 1993 he began a collaboration with two galleries in Rome, which continues today.
He was commissioned in subsequent years by an Arab prince and also began working with the Galleria Farnese, wich has branches in Rome, Milan, Paris and Los Angeles. He has been showing his work in various international exhibits since 2000. In 2007 he had an exhibition at Florida International University in Miami and at the Istituto Cultural de Providencia in Santiago, Chile.
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