The Original Art

Celebrating the fine art of children’s book illustration

Celebrating the Fine Art of Children’s Book Illustration After presenting the exhibition “Illustrations for Italo Calvino” at the Society of Illustrators in New York in 2023, the Bologna Children’s Book Fair is proud to host in the framework of its The Illustrators Survival Corner the exhibition “The Original Art”.

The Original Art is an annual exhibit created to showcase illustrations from the year’s best children’s books published in the United States. For illustrators, it’s a unique opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for the art they create. For editors and art directors, it’s a treasure trove of talent to discover and draw upon. For art students, it’s a means of examining—up close—the work of the best in the field. And for the public, it’s a chance to appreciate the enormous range of creativity in children’s books and to see the printed pages alongside the original paintings, drawings, prints, and collages they represent.

Founded by painter, art director, and artists’ representative Dilys Evans, The Original Art was first exhibited in 1980 at the Master Eagle Gallery in New York City. On display was the work of a wide variety of artists, some well-known and well-loved, some newcomers to the field.

Then in 1990, the show found a permanent home at the Museum of Illustration at the Society of Illustrators in New York City. Books are selected for the show by a jury of outstanding children’s book illustrators, art directors, and editors.

The Original Art honors  exceptional children’s book artists in several award categories each year. This year’s Gold Medal is awarded to Felicita Sala for As Night Falls: Creatures That Go Wild After Dark (Penguin Random House / Random House Studio). Silver Medals are awarded to Marla Frazee for The Great Zapfino (Simon & Schuster / Beach Lane Books) and to Victoria Tentler-Krylov for I’m Gonna Paint: Ralph Fasanella, Artist of the People (Holiday House). Also, in honor of the show’s creator, The Dilys Evans Founder’s Award celebrates the year’s most promising new talent whose work has been juried into the show. The 2023 Founder’s Award jury has selected X. Fang for Dim Sum Palace (Penguin Random House / Tundra Books). Now honoring forty-three years of extraordinary illustration, the Society continues the celebration at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. This exhibit features forty-eight beautiful pieces from the Society’s 2023 show, including works by this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award Winners William Joyce and Dahlov Ipcar. This edition saw 2349 books submitted by 644 publishers from 59 countries – an increase of 134 titles compared to 2022.