Contact Artefacts
please if you have any comments or more information regarding this record.

List of Projects

KONYA, Alesandro Sandor

Born: 1892 10 31
Died: 1976 06 24


Born 31 10 1892 in Budapest, Hungary. Also called Antal.

An architect, pioneer film set designer (he worked on the sets for Fritz Lang's 'The cabinet of Dr Caligari'), painter, cartoonist, graphic artist, columnist and book-reviewer, Konya came to South Africa in 1928 from New York, the first Hungarian artist to come to South Africa, to design cinema interiors for Ira Schlesinger's African Theatres. Konya had left Budapest in 1909 to study architecture at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris; at night he attended art classes at the Colarossi Atelier. He returned to Hungary on the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 and served on the Italian and Russian Fronts for more than four years before being invalided back to Budapest from where he fled to Vienna. It was then that he encountered the film industry. After working for Fritz Lang as a set designer he joined Alexander Korda, collaborating on 'Samson and Delilah.' In 1921 he left Vienna for Berlin and moved on to Paris in 1922. He designed sets for 'Four horses of the apocalypse' and 'Madame sans gêne.' He exhibited lithographs at Guiot's in Paris, selling a folio to one Payne who opened South Africa's first commercial art gallery, the Van Riebeek in Cape Town, with an exhibition of Konya's work. In 1923 he went to Panama where he designed three cinemas; in 1924 he went to New York, joining the first National Pathe's Cosmopolitan Studio in Haarlem where he worked with Charlie Chaplin before rejoining Korda. In 1928 he came to South Africa, living in Cape Town where he met and married Phyllis Juby and opened an art school. He continued to work with cinemas, designing the interior of the Capitol Theatre in Pretoria between 1930 and 1931. In 1934 he closed the art school in Cape Town and sailed for Japan, Shanghai and Hong Kong, teaching architectural students at various points. His son, Allan Rae Konya, was born in Hong Kong in 1935. Konya's main occupations at this time were teaching and writing, learning to read and write in Chinese. Rumours of war precipitated a return to South Africa in 1938. He set up as an architect in Pretoria where he remained for the rest of his career and retired in 1959.

Died 24 06 1976 in Pretoria.

(ISAA mem list - see AR Konya; The Star 6/2 M 15 1971)

All truncated references not fully cited in 'References' are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.

List of projects

With photographs
With notes

Capitol Theatre, lnterior, with PR COOKE: 1931. Central, Pretoria, Gauteng - Architect

Books citing KONYA

Greig, Doreen. 1971. A Guide to Architecture in South Africa. Cape Town: Howard Timmins. pp 126

K[nox], WH (Editor). 1933-4. Arts in South Africa, The. Durban: Knox printing and publishing. pp 175