Soviet Lithuanian Children's Book Illustration

The exhibition Illustrarium: Soviet Lithuanian Children's Book Illustration features Soviet Lithuanian children’s book illustrations created between 1945 and 1990. The display has been composed with the aim of evoking a general Soviet-epoch context in Lithuania in which these children’s books were published and showing the most interesting work from Lithuanian artists of the field.

The exhibits reveal what ideas and images were instilled in little readers, how they served the dissemination of Communist ideology and to what extent children were allowed to live in the child’s world of fairy tales, adventures and imagination.

The exhibition is broken into three parts corresponding to the three main stages in the history of Soviet Lithuania. The exhibits are arranged chronologically and according to four themes: the children’s book as a mouthpiece for propaganda, the children’s book as a means of sustaining the national identity, the children’s book as a “window to the West”, and the child’s world as it emerges in the illustration of children’s books. Originals of books and illustrations are on view, while the catalogue includes photographs from the period reflecting the lives of children and the atmosphere, and posters which accompanied children’s cultural life.

All Lithuanians who experienced a Soviet childhood keep memories of the legendary pair of artists Birutė Žilytė and Algirdas Steponavičius. Today we can discover a new relevance in work by artists who established themselves in the 1960s and 1970s. Steponavičius is the key to understanding the artistic world of the entire generation of contemporary book illustrators. He set a standard for the most talented of his generation and younger Lithuanian graphic artists such as Lidija Glinskienė, Petras Repšys, Aspazija Surgailienė. He was indirectly a teacher for Stasys Eidrigevičius, who matured as an artist in Lithuania before continuing his career after 1980 in Poland. Žilytė, Steponavičius, their contemporaries and younger artists represented the entire epoch of Lithuanian culture which emerges in this exhibition.

Catalogue Illustrarium: Soviet Lithuanian Children's Book Illustration

Curators: dr. G. Jankevičiūtė, dr. J. Liškevičienė.

The exhibition took place in the Biblioteca Archiginnasio (the city of Bologna), while Lithuania was the Guest of Honour Country of the international Bologna Children‘s Book Fair 2011 (28-30 March). Duration: 30 March to 8 May, 2011.

The exhibition was displayed at the International Youth Library in Munich ( from November 2012 till February 2013.