Sunday, 19 April 2009

Joseph Csaky's Forgotten Carpets

Architecture d'Aujourd'hui No 10, January 1933. The Carpet Index Library

One of the frequent problems faced when researching Art Deco carpet designs and designers in libraries in particular, is that many of the artists and designers are mentioned infrequently, and sometimes not at all. A number of artists and designers appear only once or twice in magazines or in exhibition catalogues, such as the Salon d'Automne or the Salon des Artistes Decorateurs, and in many cases there are no accompanying rug or carpet illustrations.

Most of these minor artists and designers remain forgotten and are rarely mentioned in specialised books. A few might gain recognition in another field or medium, particularly if it is fine art based, but their carpet design work tends to be ignored.

A good example is the case of the Hungarian-born sculptor Joseph Csaky (1888-1971), who came to Paris and achieved some recognition in France between the First and Second World Wars. It seems that during this period he sold some drawings or paintings to Marie Cuttoli, the creator of the Myrbor Art Gallery, and a producer of both textiles and carpets. So far The Carpet Index has been able to identify three Csaky woven designs produced by Cuttoli. They were produced between 1928 and 1933, and were published in the following magazines:

1) Les Echos des Arts, No 42, January 1929.
2) Arts et Decoration, October 1931.
3) Architecture d'Aujourd'hui, No 10, January 1933 (See illustration above).

Even with this well documented knowledge, two carpets derived from Csaky's art work appeared on the market with the credit mistakenly given to Jean Lurcat. One was at a Sotheby's sale on December 4 1968, (Lot 357), while the other was at a Christie's New York sale on September 27 1986, (Lot 183). In the Sotheby's catalogue the carpet was mistakenly named La Maison au Toit Rouge (The Red Roof House), instead of the correct Fruits. Luckily there is a black and white photograph taken by Therese Bonnet, which is in the French Governmental archive, and so this confirms the provenance of the piece.

Carpet and rug research is littered with such inconsistencies, where obvious errors and misinterpretations can go unnoticed for years. It is the job of The Carpet Index to help to correct these often long standing mistakes and anomalies, so that future research will not be as muddled as it often has been in the past.

Post written by Jean Manuel de Noronha

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