Artists’ Collections in the Archives: Digitizing Cleveland’s Artistic History | by Cleveland Museum of Art | CMA Thinker

By Sara Kunkemueller, Digitization Intern, Ingalls Library and Museum Archives

This summertime, I joined the Ingalls Library and Museum Archives as a digitization intern. My work involved several jobs, from updating metadata to scanning guides for the Online Archive, but substantially of my time was devoted to digitizing artists’ collections in the archives. The 1st supplies I scanned were being John Paul Miller’s sketchbooks.

Miller (1918–2013) was a renowned Cleveland jeweler. Possessing graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Artwork (CIA), he returned soon after Military service in Entire world War II to be a part of the school’s staff members as a professor. At the identical time, he commenced developing pieces for nearby jewellery retailer Potter & Mellen. Nevertheless Miller was trained in industrial layout and spent his occupation centered on jewellery, he also harbored a deep love for watercolor and made both photographs of his travels and a wide range of online video resources. During his tenure at the CIA, long lasting far more than 40 yrs, he taught all these topics. Miller’s do the job has been obtained by a lot of personal collectors as effectively as by the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) and the Renwick Gallery, between other people.

Miller is acknowledged for his use of granulation, a procedure best identified from archaeological jewelry. Via the granulation approach, tiny beads of metal are affixed to a larger sized type with no soldering. Miller utilized granulation to build extremely complicated surface area textures and patterns. Focusing on both geometric abstractions and practical animal and insect kinds, Miller’s use of granulation lends his physique of function an general stylistic coherence, weaving a modernist aesthetic into organic surfaces. His sketchbooks are filled with repetitive drawings, exactly where Miller performs with the kind of the granulation pattern. Because Miller’s sketches are comparatively shut in measurement to his last products and solutions, there are many pieces in the CMA’s selection, in the archives’ Could Display documents, and in other artwork galleries that can be matched almost exactly to these web pages.

Excerpts from sketchbook 21, undated, John Paul Miller Collection, Cleveland Museum of Art Archives
Gold and Enamel Pendant, Owl, c. 1955. John Paul Miller. Picture 5562, Cleveland Museum of Art Archives. This artwork is known to be below copyright.

Miller’s sketchbooks augment his physique of get the job done with in depth notes on development, including experimental notes created in the workshop. Various are loaded with steel dust, and even modest scraps of discarded gold, suggesting that they lived on his workbench and that styles ended up issue to revision during manufacturing. In a single occasion, Miller wrote out directions for a quick movie next the creation of one particular of his parts, leaving at the rear of a meticulous history of his procedure. Along with charges and other information, the within handles often have a list of names or titles indicating which is effective of his had been commissioned, made for a specific display, or produced in collection. In just sketchbook 19, there is also a prolonged handwritten insurance appraisal detailing the minutiae of a piece’s development, from elements to procedures. All of this is relevant to long run collectors and conservators of Miller’s function, but it also preserves his comprehensive information of metalworking and could most likely serve as a training aid. Miller’s sketchbooks have a wealth of facts about his parts, his educating procedures, and his private and specialist passions.

All 32 of Miller’s sketchbooks are presently accessible on the CMA Archives’ electronic collections. Also accessible to view are detailed renderings of his rings and pendants, images from his trips to California and Antarctica, and photos of his will work from the Might Exhibit selection.

The remainder of my internship targeted on the archives’ August F. Biehle Collection, composed largely of sketch components relating to various media and projects during Biehle’s prolific job. A son of German immigrant and attractive artist August Biehle Sr. (also represented in the electronic archives), Biehle (1885–1979) was a Clevelander who contributed immensely to the city’s booming inventive character in the early 20th century. Just after completing his art schooling in Germany, Biehle returned to Cleveland just as it was achieving its peak of artistic innovation and commenced doing work at the Otis Lithograph Firm. In excess of the training course of his job, he produced unbelievable adverts, murals, and paintings and grew to become one of the most popular Cleveland school artists.

Biehle was also a member of the city’s preeminent eclectic art group, the Kokoon Arts Club. He brought with him the two inventive talent and inspiration, acquiring considered an influential exhibition of Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), a German Expressionist group, in Munich in 1912. This informed Biehle’s personal modernist works and, in change, proved to be a stylistic impact for other club associates. The archives’ selection has a variety of Kokoon Club objects, such as posters for club situations, publication products, and ticket styles for the club’s renowned and lascivious balls. The Kokoon Club authorized Biehle to experiment with his formal artistic teaching, and the interaction amongst the club’s flourishing modernists inspired him to delve into a variety of variations, which includes the building Artwork Deco and Cubism actions.

Kokoon club bal-masque ticket #337 and ticket stub, 1938, August F. Biehle Collection, Cleveland Museum of Art Archives

Of individual observe in the Biehle collection are sketch materials relating to murals he generated for several infamous buildings across the town, like the Kokoon Club, the Hofbräuhaus, and Herman Pirchner’s Alpine Village Theatre Cafe. These mural sketches, typically rendered loosely in gouache on paper or board, are hanging not only for the reason that of their splendor but also mainly because quite few visual information of the murals keep on being. The Kokoon club, for illustration, featured quite a few Biehle operates on its walls through its heyday. On the other hand, just after the club’s drop and disbandment in 1956, Biehle’s murals were demolished with the creating. This is also accurate of his substantial do the job in Pirchner’s Alpine Village, notably Biehle’s depictions of fantastical scenes and basic moments from opera and theater. His affect prolonged to the Eldorado Club earlier mentioned the restaurant, exactly where Pirchner hosted famous company. In 1996, however, that structure was razed as nicely. When there are some photographic documents made up of Biehle’s demolished mural functions, they are frequently centered on modern society events and the individuals who frequented the spaces somewhat than on the art alone. The sketch renderings of Biehle’s murals are some of the greatest remaining documentation of his presence all through influential structures in the town.

Sketch for mural — opera cycle, “Siegfried” written in margin, for Herman Pirchner’s Alpine Village Theatre Cafe, c. 1942, August F. Biehle Assortment, Cleveland Museum of Artwork Archives

Beyond Cleveland, Biehle signifies a great encapsulation of the explosion of inventive innovation in the early 20th century. Stylistically adventurous, Biehle’s passions shifted above the program of his job. He was a talented decorative artist, obtaining apprenticed below his father, and his lithographs had been in direct conversation with other essential advertisers of his age. Biehle’s business performs contain excellent experiments of his peers’ creations, these kinds of as various layouts for the Arrow Collar adverts that made American artist Joseph Christian Leyendecker (1874–1951) well-known, as well as several observational studies that present the depth of his formal education. Biehle’s prints have been at the forefront of the shift from Artwork Nouveau to Artwork Deco. In the later pieces of Biehle’s profession, his paintings took on a striking Cubist model and had been imbued with the dynamism of Futurism. His numerous abilities make him an excellent example of the toughness of Cleveland’s creative scene at its top.

Biehle’s other do the job features a wide variety of colourful painted landscapes encouraged by Cubism. The CMA retains in its assortment 1 these types of painting as effectively as operates on paper by the artist. To see the Biehle collection on-line, remember to stop by