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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Mariska Karasz

Mariska Karasz (1898-1960) was born in Budapest, Hungary. She was a fashion designer, textile artist and author.

Karasz immigrated to the United States as a teenager in 1913. She had learned to work with textiles as a young girl in her native Hungary and turned that knowledge into a successful career. By the 1920s she was a well-known designer of women's fashions. In the 1930s, she added a children's line and had a devoted following of clients.

In the 1940s, following World War II, a divorce and a fire in her studio, Karasz decided to take her career in a new direction and completely reinvent herself as a textile artist. She began to create elaborate embroidered wall hangings. These pieces were made of mixed fibers, metal, wood, paper, straw, leather and plastic. They were highly textured and had depth and dimension, qualities Karasz recognized as inherent in the medium, and she approached these designs as fine art. All were beautiful abstracts, and some, like The Trailer House and Split Level Ark, were slightly whimsical.

Karasz exhibited her work in museums and galleries across the country. She authored the book Adventures in Stitches: A New Art of Embroidery, and worked as guest needlework editor for House Beautiful magazine.


Appliqued silk jacket

Glorified Lemon Bag, 1950
20 1/2 x 16 1/4 inches

Skein, 1952
32 1/4 x 49 3/4 inches

Ropes on Red, 1952
62 1/2 x 47 3/4 inches

The Trailer House, 1953
27 1/2 x 21 1/2 inches
No Strings Attached, 1954
29 x 14 inches

Alternate B, 1955
17 x 22 5/16 inches

Color Range II, 1956
57 1/8 x 82 3/4

Beacon Lights, 1958
61 x 54 5/8 inches
Honeycomb, 1959
19 5/8 x 30 1/2 inches

Star Clouds, 1959
11 1/2 x 31 7/8 inches

Hieroglyphics, 1960
66 x 58 1/2 inches

Split Level Ark, 1960
37 1/4 x 60 inches


  1. I knew you'd love her work Dana. I actually sent Pippa one of her books that I found in an op-shop (thrift store) and I'm pretty sure she really liked it too. And who wouldn't right? Just look at it!

    1. You're so right. It's amazing!!! I'm absolutely in love with Hieroglyphics and Color Range II! Thanks so much for telling me about her work.

  2. Love learning about all these 'new to me' designers, Dana. Xx

    1. You can thank Kylie for this one. I hadn't heard of Karasz till she told me about her. Now I'm fascinated by her work.

  3. I'm her new fan too, her work is amazing!!!

    1. How did her work stay under our radar for so long?

  4. Truly gorgeous works of fabric art! I'd love to find one I could afford and put up!

    1. I can't even imagine what one of her large pieces would cost today, if they're not all in museums.

  5. Color Range and Split Level Ark both resonate with my love of mosaic, and the Beacon Lights piece has such wonderful oranges and blues!

    1. The colors are just gorgeous! She was such a talented woman.

  6. Swoon! So excited to see a Hungarian featured on Mid2Mod. I am checking out her website right now!

    1. Wasn't she amazing? Who knows...with your new-found embroidering talents, you may become the next Mariska Karasz! :)