Drawing, Designs for Bowls, Vases, Candlesticks, and Teapots
These sketches on tracing paper by Ilonka Karasz illustrate different designs for silver-plated objects, including vases, candlesticks, creamers, and sugars, all described with conical/triangular forms and cross-bar bases.
Born in Budapest, Karasz trained at the Hungarian Royal Institute of Arts and Crafts. After emigrating to New York in 1913, she practiced as a graphic designer, creating cover designs for the New Yorker; advertisements for New York shops such as Bonwit Teller and Ovington’s; textile designs for Cheney Silks, Susquehanna Silk Mills, Belding Brothers, Standard Textiles, Mallinson & Co., Du Pont Rayon, and Schwarzenbach-Huber; and wallpaper designs for Katzenbach & Warren. In addition, she taught at the Modern Art School in New York and sold her work at the bookshop and gallery, The Sunrise Turn, which specialized in hand-dyed textiles and embroideries.
By the late 1920s, Karasz’s work was included in major design exhibitions. Her work was featured in the 1928 Macy’s International Exposition of Art in Industry, which traveled to 10 cities. She became part of an alliance of mostly European immigrant designers working in the modern style known as the American Union of Decorative Artists and Craftsmen (AUDAC) and exhibited in the two AUDAC exhibitions of 1930 and 1931 at the Brooklyn Museum. She also showed at the 1928 and 1929 American Designers Gallery exhibitions for which she served on the executive committee and designed the catalogue.
In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Karasz designed electroplated nickel silver coffee and tea services, vases, candlesticks, and bowls for Paye & Baker Manufacturing Co. in North Attleboro, Massachusetts. (Electroplating was less expensive than using sterling silver.) This sheet contains initial concept sketches that demonstrate Karasz’s exploration of early modern forms that had been previously examined in Europe—especially the metalwork of the Bauhaus designer Marianne Brandt. The sheet shows a family of decorative arts objects, all presumably inspired by Brandt’s silver- and bronze-plated Teapot M49 (1924) with attached semi-circular ebony handle and metal crossbar base. The museum has three Karasz electroplated silver objects produced by Paye & Baker represented in this drawing: a vase, a candlestick, and a bowl (1993-111-1/3). Cooper-Hewitt has been collecting Karasz’s work since the mid-1970s across all departments. This rare initial concept sheet is filled with innovative design ideas and truly shows the designer thinking on paper.
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Cite this object as
Drawing, Designs for Bowls, Vases, Candlesticks, and Teapots; Designed by Ilonka Karasz (American, b. Hungary, 1896–1981); USA; graphite on tracing paper; 2006-16-1
This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibitions Making Design and Looking Forward/ Looking Back: Recent Acquisitions in 20th- and 21st-Century Design.