Published: March 6, 2018
NEW YORK CITY – The Cooper Hewitt, the Smithsonian’s Design Museum announces, “Ilonka Karasz,” an exhibition of 28 works by a Hungarian Émigré who worked in a wide variety of media, creating architectural murals, wall-coverings, carpets, lighting, ceramics, metalwork, furniture and toys. Curated by Greg Herringshaw, the museum’s curator of wall-coverings, the exhibit will be on view through April 22.
Ilonka Karasz (1896-1981) is among America’s unsung design heroes. Her name can be found in books on the Art Deco movement in the United States, and fans and collectors of railroad china revere her ceramics. Karasz’ primary claim to fame, however, is her 186 cover illustrations for The New Yorker, from the magazine’s founding in 1925 through 1973.
After studying at the Royal Academy of Arts and Crafts in Budapest, Karasz settled in 1913 in New York’s Greenwich Village, where she began painting and designing works influenced by the Wiener Werkstätte and Hungarian peasant art. She soon became part of a circle of European-born Modernist creatives, including Oscar Wentz, Konrad Cramer and Winold Reiss. The industrial designer Donald Deskey became one of her supporters, frequently specifying her textiles for interior projects.
Some of the works in the exhibition, like her drawings and related wallpapers from the 1940s, are among the museum’s recent acquisitions. Others include a New Yorker cover and textiles, like the Calico Cow pattern, designed in 1952 for Associated American Artists.
The Cooper Hewitt is at 2 East 91st Street. For additional information, 212-849-8400 or www.cooperhewitt.org.
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