Book Art: the most beautiful Lithuanian and Czech books

The exhibition of the most beautiful Czech books, which has become a tradition and has been presented at Vilnius Book Fair for several years, and later at the Kazys Varnelis House-Museum, opened its doors this year as a wider exposition representing Lithuanian and Czech book art. The exhibition “Book Art: The Most Beautiful Lithuanian and Czech Books” was opened at the Kazys Varnelis House-Museum on May 7 – Lithuanian Press Restauration, Language and Book Day.

In the Czech Republic the creation of a book and its illustration is a very important part of national culture and has a long tradition. In 2002 for the first time the works of students of the Academy of Arts, Architecture, and Design in Prague (Vysoká škola uměleckoprůmyslová v Praze) were presented at the Vilnius Book Fair. In that year, the students of the Academy also visited Professor Kazys Varnelis (1917–2010) at his home in Vilnius. Lithuania is connected with the Czech Republic not only by the peculiarities of the alphabet (č, ž, š), which bring the typographic characters of both countries closer, but also by the biography of the first professional bookbinder of modern Lithuania Tadas Lomsargis (1905–1942). Sigutė Chlebinskaitė, the curator of this exhibition, the founder of the creative studio “Book Land” and the supporter of cultural relations with the Czech Republic also studied in Prague.

The Most Beautiful Czech Books of the Year competition (MBCBY) is held by the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic and the Museum of Czech Literature. MBCBY competition looks at the polygraphs, graphic and illustrative aspects of books that are published by Czech publishers and printed by Czech printing companies during the previous calendar year. Last year 313 titles of Czech production were submitted to the 55th edition of the competition ‘The Most Beautiful Czech Books 2019”. The Most Beautiful Czech Books of the Year Award is bestowed in seven categories and student works category. Each category has three places to be awarded, the first one being awarded by the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic. Furthermore, the Museum of Czech Literature and the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague give an award to a graphic artist aged under 30. At the exhibition you can find 55 the most beautiful Czech books. The results of the competition were announced rather untraditionally – online – through a video by Jakub Jansa, which was inspired by The Stanley Parabe video game.

Since 1996 Lithuanian Book Art Competition is organized by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania. This year, 55 publishers have presented 118 titles for the competition. Books were evaluated by two groups of expert practitioners. One group consists of Lithuanian Graphic Design Association, Lithuanian Printers Association and Lithuanian Publishers Association. The other group consists of members delegated from Vilnius Academy of Art, Lithuanian Artists’ Association and Vilnius Bookbinders Guild. The other two are appointed by the Minister of Culture. The books are evaluated in 6 categories based on technical criteria of printing / publishing, the quality of printing and binding and the artistic unity of the book. Each category has one price and two diplomas to be awarded. Vilnius Art Academy and Lithuanian Artists’ Association have established their individual prizes and the Main annual bonus is also awarded. At the exhibition there are 21 titles published in the year 2020.

The exhibition will run from May 7 until July 11, 2021.

The exhibition is organized by the Kazys Varnelis House-Museum, the branch of the Lithuanian National Museum, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania, the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Lithuania and the creative studio “Book Land”.