"Java" Armchair

Artist: Ilonka Karasz (American (born Hungary) Budapest 1896–1981 New York, New York)

Date: ca. 1930

Medium: Teak wood

Dimensions: 27 1/2 x 21 5/8 x 21 5/8 in. (69.9 x 54.9 x 54.9 cm)

Classification: Woodwork-Furniture

Credit Line: Purchase, Theodore R. Gamble Jr. Gift, in honor of his mother, Mrs. Theodore Robert Gamble, 1983

Accession Number: 1983.228.5


The Hungarian artist Ilonka Karasz was educated at the Royal School of Arts and Crafts in Budapest, emigrating to America at an early age. She worked as a designer and interior decorator, as well as a painter and illustrator, contributing dozens of New Yorker cover illustrations during her career. Karasz was highly successful and productive in a field almost entirely dominated by men. As a designer, she worked in a number of media, including metalwork, textiles, ceramics, and furniture. This teak chair is typical of her furniture designs of the 1920s-30s. In its angular, geometric form, it is clearly influenced by early twentieth-century European designs, notably those of the Viennese architect and designer Josef Hoffmann, whose son Wolfgang was a personal friend. Much of her furniture of this period, including this chair, is made of unpainted exotic woods, emphasizing their planar, geometric forms and lack of ornament.