LITHUANIAN MINISTRY OF CULTURE * VILNIUS ACADEMY OF ART
LITHUANIAN UNION OF ARTISTS
EXHIBITION of the INTERNATIONAL BOOKPLATE COMPETITION
LIETUVIŠKAI KNYGAI - 450
International Bookplate Competition
Lietuviškai knygai 450
FOREWORD of the EXHIBITION CATALOGUE
The publication of the first Lithuanian book is regarded to be as a most significant event in the history of our nation and state.
450 years ago, the first Lithuanian book a catechism compiled by Martynas Mažvydas was published in the Prussian dukedom the significance of this small book by a Protestant priest to the maturation of our culture is still to be investigated by scientists and contemplated by writers and artists. Events dedicated to the anniversary year of the first Lithuanian book offer a lot of opportunities and stimuli for such activities. An international bookplate competition organized by the Ministry of culture of the Republic of Lithuania, Vilnius Academy of Arts and the Lithuanian Artists Union, is one of them.
Lithuanian artists and students of Vilnius Academy of Arts, M. K. Čiurlionis and Kaunas Gymnasiums of Arts were the first to respond to the invitation of the organizers. For the students it was a serious task that prompted them both to reflect on the specificity of a bookplate and the history of Lithuanian culture. One would like to expect that participation in the competition will help some of them join the ranks of our bookplate artists and take deeper interest in the Lithuanian past and the figures whose names can be brought back to the present both by works of history and works of art.
Foreign graphic artists also showed interest in the anniversary of the first Lithuanian book. Works were sent in by Belgian, Czech, Estonian, Italian, Latvian, Polish, French, Russian, Ukrainian, Hungarian, German artists. Such geographic diversity may seem symbolic as one reflects upon the occasion for the competition. Bookplates that easily travel from one country to another spread like a printed word, extending threads linking different cultures. This aspect of the competition is illustrated by Paola Ginepris (Italy) work an open book gliding as a bird above the map of the Baltic countries.
A book and a bookplate. What things may be connected more closely than these ones? What artists can grasp the essence and the meaning of a book better than a bookplate artist? It as if goes without saying that the appearance of the first book in the language of a small nation, the background and the fate of such a book should intrigue artists, stimulate the imagination and be transformed into expressive and meaningful images, bringing the 16th century event under consideration closer to the present. For the majority of the participants in the competition, however, the organizers invitation to create also bookplates replated to the present of the Lithuanian culture was more acceptable. Many authors devoted their works to Vytautas Landsbergis, investigators of ancient books Dominykas Urbas and Vytautas Bogušis. Bookplates by Augustinas Virgilijus Burba, an artist from Klaipėda, dedicated to Enzo Pella and Guido Michelini, reflect modern cultural links between Lithuania and Italy. Viktorija Daniliauskaitės bookplates are probably most expressive among the works of this kind. In elegant silver-gray and black compositions, she paraphrases, in a masterful fashion, characteristic motifs from the works of recently-deceased Lithuanian book graphic artists Rimtautas Gibavičius, Vincas Kisarauskas and Algirdas Steponavičius, inserting these works into the context of the multiage history of the Lithuanian book.
Only a few authors were prompted by the tiny space of a bookplate to condense the thought and to express it in a laconic icon-type image. Sculptors experience could have helped Benas Narbutas to see and to depict the theme as a graceful ornamented chapel of books. The way of stylization chosen by him is, however, a bit too refined, bearing in mind the nature of the publication being commemorated. Two small-sized, modest and precise aquatints by Rasa Prišmontienė from Šiauliai represent a really impressive and modern monument to the press and the book.
Many of the participants in the competition sought specific references to the actualities of both the event being commemorated and its epoch. In the exhibition we see several portraits of Martynas Mažvydas precursors, professors of Karaliaučius University Abraomas Kulvietis and Stanislovas Rapolionis, also scenes of a Renaissance printing-house admittedly, without any reference to hans Weinreich printing-house, in which not only Mažvydas books saw the light of the day but, according to the scientists, other Lithuanian books were also waiting for their turn.
Some artists tried to sense cultural symbols related to the anniversary without going deeper into the investigations of the literature historians. Thus, in many of the bookplates presented for the competition, Karaliaučius University is overshadowed by the buildings of Vilnius University or, more often, by the baroque towers of Vilnius churches. As if a skilled hand just repeats what it has accustomed to depict, what is so close and familiar since the times of the anniversary of Vilnius University...
The attractiveness of the baroque forms and iconography for the Lithuanian graphic artists is confirmed also by the inclination to picture decorative figures of angels as staffage. Thats both nice and symbolic. One would just wish to advise Ramūnas Krupauskas, who has made an angel with a book descend from the sky to a monk standing in the pouring rain, to take deeper interest in St. Matthews iconography.
Against the general background of works of historical orientation, Roberta Vaigeltaitės attitude which is close to the ideas of the Enlightenment, seems attractive. Her bookplate with a panorama of Karaliaučius University and the texts about the wealths of the university library is one of those few works that represent an artistic interpretation of the place, time, and environment of the birth of the first Lithuanian book.
The metaphor of a tree growing out of a book probably confirms the fact that Lithuanians frequently learn more from nature rather than from history...
The neighborhood of the works by Lithuanian authors and by artists from other countries demonstrated our attachment to the artistic traditions that have formed in the 20th century. In the Lithuanian bookplates, we do not see paraphrases of the old books elements, there are no references to the worlds heritage of the book art. Such limitation is particularly obvious when one sees works by the Czech Vladimir Hadomsky. The abundance of the interpretation versions offered by him is surprising; it provides the subject with a wide cultural context from the attributes of a historical book (initials, miniatures) to the use of the paraphrases of surrealist graphic works and photography. By depicting, in one of his bookplates, the meeting of Martynas Mažvydas and his patron, maybe even the customer of the first Lithuanian book, the Prussian duke Albrecht, Vladimir Hadomsky, at the same time, presented an example of a historical composition with a plot on the subject of the first Lithuanian book. Through arousing controversial thoughts about the means of expression used, his collection attracts attention due to its vivid and dynamic dialogue with culture and its various layers.
Thus, the value of the competition is not confined to its direct result the bookplates commemorating the fact of the appearance of the first Lithuanian book and the significance of this event. The works of the participants in the competition represent a material for reflections on the relation between modern art and the heritage of the past and, more broadly, on the nature of our historical self-consciousness.
Exhibition was held 8-25 January, 1997 at the gallery Akademija
Latako 2, 2001 Vilnius, tel.: (370 2) 612 094
C3 dry needle
CAD computer techniquea
MT mix technique
P7 ofset print
X1 wood cut
X2 wood cut
X6 plastic cut
First prize for 5 bookplates
Lietuviškai knygai 450. In memoriam Algirdas Steponavičius. X3/2 115x70
Lietuviškai knygai 450. In memoriam Viktoras Petravičius. X3/2 115x70
Lietuviškai knygai 450. In memoriam R. V. Gibavičius. X3/2 115x70
Lietuviškai knygai 450. In memoriam Antanas Kučas. X3/2 115x70
Lietuviškai knygai 450. In memoriam Vincas Kisarauskas. X3/2 115x70
The First Internet Exhibition of Selected Works
Second prize for 3 bookplates
Lietuviškai knygai 450. Rotušės aikštė 1835 m. X2 100x120
Lietuviškai knygai 450. Katedros aikštė born born 1939 m. X2 100x120
Lietuviškai knygai 450. Aldonos, Vytauto Vosiliūnų. X2 95x75
Third prize for bookplate
Valerijonas Vytautas Jucys
Lietuviškai knygai 450. X3/2 116x86
First prize for 2 bookplates
The Czech Republic
Lietuviškai knygai 450. P7/col 120x100
Lietuviškai knygai 450. P7/col 115x80
Augustinas Virgilijus Burba
Catechismus 450. Guido Michelini. C3 C5 110x60
Lietuviškai knygai 450. X1120x73
Lietuviškai knygai 450. C5 39x50
Lietuviškai knygai 450. X6 110x110