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Textile, Americana Print: Manhattan

This is a Textile. It was designed by Clayton Knight and manufactured by Stehli Silk Corporation. It is dated 1925 and we acquired it in 1937. Its medium is silk and its technique is printed by engraved roller on plain weave with over-spun weft. It is a part of the Textiles department.

Clayton Knight’s version was part of Stehli Silk’s Americana Prints collection, produced between 1925 and 1927. Art director Kneeland “Ruzzie” Green commissioned artists and illustrators, cartoonists and celebrities, including photographer Edward Steichen and tennis pro Helen Wallis, to create designs that captured something both distinctly American and utterly of the moment: “The skyscraper, jazz, and other modern notes of energetic America will be reflected in the designs,” (“Artists Localize Our Silk Designs,” New York Times, November 1, 1925). The article also declared Knight’s Manhattan to be the most successful design of the series, noting that “it is so modern that it suggests a view of all our skyscrapers piled up together, seen from an elevated train rounding a sharp curve.”

Knight’s design makes strong use of diagonals, as though floodlights were glancing off the facades of the buildings. The effect may show the influence of his career as an illustrator of books on aviation, as well as adventure novels for boys. Active as a pilot in both World Wars, the excitement of air travel infused his work.

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled Silk and the City.

This object was donated by Marian Hague. It is credited Gift of Marian Hague.

Our curators have highlighted 1 object that are related to this one.

Its dimensions are

H x W x D: 71.1 × 52 cm (28 × 20 1/2 in.)

Cite this object as

Textile, Americana Print: Manhattan; Designed by Clayton Knight (American, 1891 - 1969); Manufactured by Stehli Silk Corporation (Switzerland); USA; silk; H x W x D: 71.1 × 52 cm (28 × 20 1/2 in.); Gift of Marian Hague; 1937-1-4

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18343959/ |title=Textile, Americana Print: Manhattan |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=6 February 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>