Artists’ Collections in the Archives: Digitizing Cleveland’s Artistic History | by Cleveland Museum of Art | CMA Thinker | Sep, 2022

Artists’ Collections in the Archives: Digitizing Cleveland’s Artistic History | by Cleveland Museum of Art | CMA Thinker | Sep, 2022

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

This summer, I joined the Ingalls Library and Museum Archives as a digitization intern. My perform concerned several tasks, from updating metadata to scanning books for the Web Archive, but a lot of my time was focused to digitizing artists’ collections in the archives. The very first supplies I scanned were John Paul Miller’s sketchbooks.

Miller (1918–2013) was a renowned Cleveland jeweler. Getting graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Artwork (CIA), he returned after Army support in Globe War II to sign up for the school’s workers as a professor. At the similar time, he began generating parts for neighborhood jewelry store Potter & Mellen. While Miller was skilled in industrial style and expended his vocation focused on jewelry, he also harbored a deep appreciate for watercolor and produced both pictures of his travels and a wide range of video materials. Through his tenure at the CIA, long lasting more than 40 years, he taught all these topics. Miller’s operate has been obtained by numerous private collectors as effectively as by the Cleveland Museum of Artwork (CMA) and the Renwick Gallery, amongst other people.

Miller is recognized for his use of granulation, a method finest regarded from archaeological jewelry. Via the granulation approach, tiny beads of metallic are affixed to a much larger type devoid of soldering. Miller used granulation to make really complicated surface textures and styles. Concentrating on the two geometric abstractions and real looking animal and insect kinds, Miller’s use of granulation lends his overall body of work an total stylistic coherence, weaving a modernist aesthetic into organic surfaces. His sketchbooks are stuffed with repetitive drawings, exactly where Miller plays with the form of the granulation pattern. Since Miller’s sketches are rather near in sizing to his final items, there are several items in the CMA’s selection, in the archives’ Could Demonstrate data, and in other artwork galleries that can be matched almost accurately to these internet pages.

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

Miller’s sketchbooks increase his overall body of do the job with in-depth notes on construction, which includes experimental notes made in the workshop. A number of are crammed with metal dust, and even smaller scraps of discarded gold, suggesting that they lived on his workbench and that styles ended up topic to revision during manufacturing. In a single instance, Miller wrote out directions for a small film pursuing the creation of a single of his pieces, leaving at the rear of a meticulous history of his procedure. Alongside with charges and other information, the within handles usually have a listing of names or titles indicating which is effective of his had been commissioned, established for a distinct exhibit, or made in sequence. Within just sketchbook 19, there is also a lengthy handwritten insurance policies appraisal detailing the trivialities of a piece’s design, from materials to methods. All of this is pertinent to upcoming collectors and conservators of Miller’s function, but it also preserves his comprehensive knowledge of metalworking and could perhaps serve as a instructing help. Miller’s sketchbooks have a prosperity of information about his pieces, his instructing techniques, and his own and experienced interests.

All 32 of Miller’s sketchbooks are currently readily available on the CMA Archives’ digital collections. Also offered to see are in depth renderings of his rings and pendants, pictures from his excursions to California and Antarctica, and visuals of his operates from the May well Present collection.

The remainder of my internship centered on the archives’ August F. Biehle Collection, composed mostly of sketch materials relating to many media and projects all over 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 artistic character in the early 20th century. Following completing his art education in Germany, Biehle returned to Cleveland just as it was reaching its peak of artistic innovation and started performing at the Otis Lithograph Corporation. Around the study course of his career, he generated remarkable advertisements, murals, and paintings and became just one of the most outstanding Cleveland faculty artists.

Biehle was also a member of the city’s preeminent eclectic artwork corporation, the Kokoon Arts Club. He brought with him the two artistic talent and inspiration, acquiring considered an influential exhibition of Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), a German Expressionist group, in Munich in 1912. This knowledgeable Biehle’s own modernist performs and, in convert, proved to be a stylistic affect for other club associates. The archives’ assortment has a amount of Kokoon Club objects, together with posters for club situations, publication elements, and ticket layouts for the club’s famous and lascivious balls. The Kokoon Club allowed Biehle to experiment with his official inventive education, and the interaction in between the club’s flourishing modernists inspired him to delve into a wide variety of variations, like the acquiring Artwork Deco and Cubism actions.

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

Of certain observe in the Biehle selection are sketch resources relating to murals he produced for many infamous properties across the metropolis, together with the Kokoon Club, the Hofbräuhaus, and Herman Pirchner’s Alpine Village Theatre Restaurant. These mural sketches, normally rendered loosely in gouache on paper or board, are placing not only because of their beauty but also since very number of visual records of the murals continue being. The Kokoon club, for case in point, featured quite a few Biehle works on its walls all through its heyday. Nevertheless, immediately after the club’s decrease and disbandment in 1956, Biehle’s murals had been demolished with the creating. This is also legitimate of his considerable function in Pirchner’s Alpine Village, notably Biehle’s depictions of fantastical scenes and typical times from opera and theater. His affect extended to the Eldorado Club over the cafe, wherever Pirchner hosted famed guests. In 1996, nonetheless, that construction was razed as effectively. While there are some photographic information made up of Biehle’s demolished mural will work, they are frequently focused on society situations and the people who frequented the spaces rather than on the art by itself. The sketch renderings of Biehle’s murals are some of the finest remaining documentation of his presence through influential properties in the town.

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

Beyond Cleveland, Biehle represents a wonderful encapsulation of the explosion of creative innovation in the early 20th century. Stylistically adventurous, Biehle’s interests shifted in excess of the program of his profession. He was a gifted ornamental artist, owning apprenticed less than his father, and his lithographs were in direct discussion with other crucial advertisers of his age. Biehle’s business will work include things like superb scientific tests of his peers’ creations, these as numerous layouts for the Arrow Collar adverts that manufactured American artist Joseph Christian Leyendecker (1874–1951) renowned, as well as many observational reports that clearly show the depth of his official training. Biehle’s prints were being at the forefront of the shift from Art Nouveau to Artwork Deco. In the later on sections of Biehle’s profession, his paintings took on a striking Cubist type and were being imbued with the dynamism of Futurism. His quite a few talents make him an excellent instance of the toughness of Cleveland’s creative scene at its peak.

Biehle’s other do the job features a range of colorful painted landscapes encouraged by Cubism. The CMA retains in its collection 1 this sort of painting as nicely as works on paper by the artist. To see the Biehle assortment on the internet, make sure you visit

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