art 2003/1

Alfonsas Augaitis. Iliustracija V.Žilinskaitės knygai Romantikos institutas. 1968

Kastytis Juodikaitis. Iliustracija T.Tilvyčio knygai Pradalgės. 1968

Irena Daukšaitė-Guobienė. Iliustracija lietuvių liaudies pasakai Gerai, bet nelabai. 2002, akvarelė, guašas, pieštukas

Everything for the Most Beautiful Book

by Rima Povilionytė

For book illustrators, the liberalized book publishing business in the country must have had some of the worst implications, above all shrinking numbers of commissions from the publishers.
The drama is even more painful, as the memories of Lithuanian book illustrators’ legendary “Golden Age” are still alive. With the generation of the 1950s, Lithuanian book illustrators gained both local and international acclaim. Subsequent generations continued the success and recognition story into the 1980s. The tradition of Lithuanian book illustration was based on imaginative and unique style of book artists. The contribution of some most renowned graphic artists was very important too, as they introduced some principles of painting and sheet graphic into book illustration. The imaginative and metaphorical style of Lithuanian book illustration school continues to be cited as a positive paradigm of book art in general.
The “Golden Age” concurred with the period when artist’s illustrations dominated in book art. Photography in the publications of the period was of poor quality, poor printing capabilities did not collaborate with the development of graphic design. It was the time when numerous books with the national sentiment were published and illustrated. All commissions came from the state publishers.
Since the 1990s the situation has been reversed. Today besides illustrations, the artistic effect of the book depends on numerous other factors, like layout, typography, paper, and binding technique. In ten years Lithuanian book illustrators have been successfully applying new technologies. Book illustration has been merging with graphic design. The role of a book illustrator has changed in one other respect: today an artist enters into a dialogue with the book he illustrates. The outcome is a new quality of relationship between the text and the image.
In Lithuania (not unlike elsewhere) the biggest part of illustrated publications are children’s books. It is possible to speak of emerging new types and styles in this sphere. The plot and narrative are the elements reinstalled in illustrations for children. Yet other than children’s books illustrated with drawings or prints are becoming more and more scarce. The number of candidates competing to major in book illustration (such studies are offered by the Vilnius Art Academy and Kaunas Art Institute) keeps shrinking as well. This situation raises many questions as to what different players around illustrated book and its illustrator should do to preserve the former momentum of the trade.