The origins of Elenhank Designers, the printed textile design business of husband-and-wife team Eleanor McMaster Kluck, who had studied fine art at the Art Institute of Chicago, and Henry C. Kluck, an architect, began in a rented apartment following their marriage in 1946. To liven up the apartment's predominately beige interior, they printed a brightly colored floral pattern of Eleanor's design onto fabric, and made the yardage into draperies for their windows. A visiting architect friend saw the curtains and commissioned two hundred yards: the Klucks printed the fabric for the project on their apartment floor.
From this unexpected beginning, Elenhank Designers was formed in Chicago in 1948 and, over a period of decades, expanded to having their fabrics sold in showrooms across the country and abroad, featured in homes and corporate offices, and chosen for museum exhibitions.
Skyline illustrates the fresh pictorial sensibility of Elenhank's productions that appealed to midcentury architects, interior designers, and homeowners. Elenhank produced three different types of hand-printed designs: traditional repeats; so-called "random" prints, where motifs were printed in arrangements according to a client's needs and desires; and panel prints, which were intended to be used flat as wall covering, rather than draped as curtains, with any number of panels grouped side-by-side to maximize their large-scale, mural-like compositions.
With its cityscape of high-rise buildings overlapping and interlocking with still taller skyscrapers, Skyline demonstrates the boldness of Elenhank's panel prints in a design distinctly linked to the Klucks' Chicagoan roots. Promotional materials for the firm show Skyline used to dramatic effect, in terms of its scale and gridlike patterning of architectural elements, in a conference room of the Union Bag-Camp Paper Corporation in Chicago.
Panels of Skyline are at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2011-32-6), the Art Institute of Chicago (1985.699), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1987.372.3), and the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum (1985-84-6), which also has original acetates for the design including a full sheet and two narrow strips.
For more information, see the Cora Ginsburg Modern 2017 catalogue.