Ilonka Karasz, an important and influential promoter and practitioner of modern design, was, over the course of her 60 year career, a master of multiple media including graphic and fine art as well as textiles, furniture, silver, ceramic and wallpaper design. Born in Budapest, Karasz attended the city's Royal School of Arts & Crafts and, in 1913, left her native Hungary and settled in New York where her distinctive style was quickly heralded by critics and artists alike.
In the 40s, 50s and 60s Karasz was renowned for her wallpaper designs and declared by the periodical Portfolio "the country's leading wallpaper artist." The present screen is adorned with Karasz's wallpaper mural "Serenade" which was produced by Katzenbach and Warren beginning around 1950 (and possibly latter by Design Group, Inc.). Lois and William Katzenbach, in The Practical Book of American Wallpaper, explain how the design "consists of two cleverly contrived matching panels which may be used singly or continuously around the room." They elaborate stating that "the subject matter of this courtyard fantasy is as common to our tenements as to an Oriental palace, thereby increasing the appeal of the design."
Many of her graphic work of this period emphasized the two dimensional nature of the medium and, as seen in the design for "Serenade," were often inspired by Asian art.
We would like to thank Ashley Callahan, Curator Decorative Arts, Georgia Museum of Art, for her assistance with the cataloguing of this lot.
cf. A. Callahan, Enchanting Modern: Ilonka Karasz (1896-1981), exhibition catalogue, Georgia Museum of Art, Atlanta, 2003, for information on Ilonka Karasz, pp. 114-130 for information on Karasz wallpaper designs for Katzenbach and Warren, p. 122, no. 95 for an illustration of 'Serenade' wallpaper in Katzenbach's bedroom.
Pat Kirkham, ed., Women Designers in the USA, 1900-2000: Diversity and Difference, exhibition catalogue, The Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture, New Haven, 2000, p. 270 for information on Ilonka Karasz.
"A Noted Artist and a New Printing Process Bring a Fresh Concept to Wallpaper Design," San Francisco Examiner, March 23, 1958, p. 3.