Each year Bologna Book Fair presents a guest of honor – this year it was Lithuania’s turn. Contemporary Lithaunian illustration was displayed in an inventive and creative exhibition, Illustrarium.

While Illustrarium showed the diversity of Lithuanian illustration today, a lesser known part of Lithuanian children’s book history was on display in the city center. The exhibition Soviet gave an unique insight into Lithuanian children’s book illustration during the Soviet occupation 1945-1990. Some of the exhibited books were examples of how children’s literature can be an instrument for propaganda (in this case communist propaganda). Others showed how children’s books can sustain and reinforce national identity. Others still were simply great illustration.

Especially notable is the work made in the 60ies, by artists such as Birute Zilyte and Vladislovas Zilius is vibrating with color – combining folk art with pop art in a wonderfully creative way!

Spending time at Lithuania’s exhibitions in Bologna was a very positive experience – they managed to show both the strength of their children’s book illustration today as well as present their fascinating recent history of illustration.

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