This object is part of a proposed gift of mural panels and drawings by Ilonka Karasz, a significant 20th-century designer. The group includes original full size mural drawings along with full size panels printed from the drawings, and a sample book for the line of Karasz’s mural designs.
The murals were all printed in the blueprint method, a photographic process also referred to as Mezzotone and Luxograph. The technique makes a positive dark-on-light print of a blueprint negative. In 1947, this process was introduced to wallcoverings by Katzenbach and Warren, Inc. with a collection of three murals designed by Karasz. Karasz selected the Mezzotone process for her murals because it clearly picks up the intricacies and nuances of her detailed graphite and ink drawings.
Karasz was born in Hungary and trained at the Royal Academy of Arts and Crafts in Budapest. After immigrating to the United States in 1913, she became an active member of the New York art scene. There is evidence she designed textiles and wallcoverings as early as 1915; Karasz’s wallpaper career didn’t take off, however, until the postwar period, when she worked almost exclusively for Katzenbach and Warren.
Cooper-Hewitt holds one of the finest collections of Ilonka Karasz wallcoverings, including several of her repeat designs and most of her Mezzotone prints, represented either as miniatures or full-size panels. The drawings proposed for acquisition would be the first original drawings for her wallpapers or murals to enter the museum’s collection. While the murals display the intricate beauty of her work, the drawings allow us to show her process as well. The gift would also create bridges across departments: at the time of proposed acquisition, in addition to her wallpaper designs, the museum’s collection also includes her textile and carpet designs, several pieces of her silver-plated tableware, and drawings for her tableware.
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This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Ilonka Karasz, Works from the Collection.