Again this year, the Art of the Book Contest, which has now become traditional, has been generous in its praise of the country’s best artists, illustrators, designers, publishers and presses. The culmination of the contest took place at the Vilnius Book Fair, during which the finest books published in Lithuania in 2019 were presented and awards were given. This is one of the most important cultural events in our country; and each year it never fails to surprise and delight us with its array of high quality, creative publications.

This year was the 27th occasion on which the winners of the Art of the Book Contest have received awards. This contest is organised annually by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania, in an effort to encourage and show appreciation for the country’s best artists, illustrators, designers, publishers and presses. The contest is very popular. This year (2019), 111 publications were submitted for consideration for awards in the fields of artistic design and execution of printing/polygraphy criteria. The books included subjects in the categories of fine literature, children’s literature and artistic or scientific/academic books, etc.

The Contest Evaluation Committee decided to award the main Art of the Book Contest prize of 2019 to Laura Grigaliūnaitė for her presentation of the results of an original interdisciplinary project in the book Lina Michelkevičė ir Vytautas Michelkevičius. „Diagraminės vaizduotės atlasas: žemėlapiai tyrimuose, mene ir edukacijoje“ / Atlas of Diagrammatic Imagination: Maps in Research, Art and Education.

In 2019, Kopa Press printed this diploma-awarded book. In the Scientific/Academic book and Textbook group, Milda Kairaitienė was highly regarded for her elegant and meaningful minimalism in her book Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis: Korespondencija / Korespondencija 1892–1906. I tomas (Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis: Correspondence / Correspondence 1892–1906. Vol. I). This book was published by Nacionalinis M. K. Čiurlionio dailės muziejus (National M. K. Čiurlionis Art Museum), and printed by the design and publishing press company KOPA.

This publication is an exceptional example of minimalism. The format chosen was an austere stitched-glued hardcover. The cover used was made with an embossable surface, which gives the book a feeling of solidity. It was decided to gild the numbers embossed on the cover with gold foil, while using a dark foil for the letters. The printing was done using Munken Pure 100 g paper, in order to present the book’s text optimally. This was also used for the pages with illustrations.

This book publishes all 291 letters – in Polish and Lithuanian – of the correspondence of Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis. The letters are presented in chronological order, which creates a dialogue between the artist and his family members, colleagues, friends, etc. On almost every pair of pages there is a text in Polish on the left side and on the right – in Lithuanian. This solution makes it possible to see both the original text and the translation. The book abounds in illustrations: letters, pictures, family photos. This not only supplements the textual information, it also allows the reader to get better acquainted with the realities of the time, and to feel a more personal acquaintance with the central figure of the publication: one of our country’s brightest cultural luminaries – Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis.