The Daily Heller: Celebrating Richly Illustrated Books 2020

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In 2013, the philanthropist and president emeritus of the J.M. Kaplan Fund, Joan K. Davidson, president of Furthermore, established the Alice award to honor her mother, Alice Manheim Kaplan. Kaplan loved and collected the illustrated book as an essential document of a civilized society.

The $25,000 Alice award is given annually to a richly illustrated book that makes a valuable contribution to its field and demonstrates high standards of production. Books selected by the award jury for the Alice Short List each receive $5,000.

"My mother loved and collected the handsome illustrated book as itself a work of art, and since that kind of book depends upon the efforts of many creators—writer, designer, editor and publisher—it is a commitment to that joint effort that the Alice will acknowledge and celebrate,” Davidson said.

"The award is intended to buttress the kind of slow-reading movement that recognizes and cherishes the lasting values of the well-made illustrated book, and the special sense of intimacy it affords," notes the fund's website. Fields considered include the fine arts and the natural and built environments and related public issues. The organization submitting the book must be a 501(c)3 and have acted as a partner in the book’s production.

This year Furthermore received over 120 submissions for the 2020 Alice. The books receiving awards meet the criteria of the Alice as being “well-made illustrated books that afford a special sense of intimacy.” Since the Alice was founded, over $255,000 has been distributed to institutions in support of illustrated publications. The 2020 winner, Infinite Cities: A Trilogy of Atlases (University of California Press, Oakland, CA), and the 2020 Alice Award Short List were announced on Monday. An awards presentation will livestream the Strand bookstore on Nov. 16. Congratulations to all selected.

Infinite Cities: A Trilogy of Atlases – San Francisco, New Orleans, New York

University of California Press, Oakland, California

Alexander von Humboldt and the United States: Art, Nature, and Culture

Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC.

The Curious World of Seaweed

Heyday, Berkeley, California

Fishes of the Salish Sea: Puget Sound and the Straits of Georgia and Juan de Fuca University of Washington Press, Seattle

Shinto: Discovery of the Divine in Japanese Art

Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland


R.O. Blechman, Illustrator

Teresa Carbone, Program Director for American Art, Henry Luce Foundation

David R. Godine, Publisher

Sharon Helgason Gallagher, President & Publisher, Artbook/D.A.P.

William P. Kelly, Andrew W. Mellon Director of the Research Libraries, New York Public Library

Max Rudin, Publisher, The Library of America

Ian Wardropper, Director, The Frick Collection

Chair: Jock Reynolds, Former Director, Yale University Art Gallery