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 months, I joined the Ingalls Library and Museum Archives as a digitization intern. My work associated various assignments, from updating metadata to scanning publications for the Online Archive, but a lot of my time was dedicated to digitizing artists’ collections in the archives. The to start with products I scanned have been John Paul Miller’s sketchbooks.

Miller (1918–2013) was a renowned Cleveland jeweler. Acquiring graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Artwork (CIA), he returned immediately after Army assistance in Entire world War II to be a part of the school’s personnel as a professor. At the similar time, he started developing items for community jewellery keep Potter & Mellen. Nevertheless Miller was qualified in industrial style and spent his vocation targeted on jewelry, he also harbored a deep enjoy for watercolor and developed each photos of his travels and a variety of online video products. All through his tenure at the CIA, long lasting additional than 40 decades, he taught all these subjects. Miller’s operate has been obtained by a lot of non-public collectors as well as by the Cleveland Museum of Artwork (CMA) and the Renwick Gallery, among some others.

Miller is regarded for his use of granulation, a procedure ideal regarded from archaeological jewelry. By means of the granulation course of action, tiny beads of metallic are affixed to a much larger variety without having soldering. Miller used granulation to build extremely sophisticated area textures and patterns. Focusing on the two geometric abstractions and sensible animal and insect sorts, Miller’s use of granulation lends his body of work an total stylistic coherence, weaving a modernist aesthetic into pure surfaces. His sketchbooks are crammed with repetitive drawings, exactly where Miller performs with the type of the granulation sample. Mainly because Miller’s sketches are rather shut in dimension to his ultimate merchandise, there are numerous parts in the CMA’s collection, in the archives’ May possibly Show documents, and in other art galleries that can be matched nearly accurately to these webpages.

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

Miller’s sketchbooks increase his human body of work with detailed notes on development, like experimental notes designed in the workshop. Numerous are stuffed with metal dust, and even small scraps of discarded gold, suggesting that they lived on his workbench and that patterns were subject matter to revision throughout creation. In a person occasion, Miller wrote out directions for a limited film subsequent the creation of one of his parts, leaving at the rear of a meticulous report of his process. Together with prices and other facts, the inside of addresses routinely have a record of names or titles indicating which will work of his were commissioned, produced for a particular demonstrate, or generated in collection. Inside sketchbook 19, there is also a prolonged handwritten insurance policy appraisal detailing the minutiae of a piece’s development, from materials to approaches. All of this is relevant to upcoming collectors and conservators of Miller’s work, but it also preserves his comprehensive knowledge of metalworking and could likely serve as a training support. Miller’s sketchbooks have a wealth of info about his parts, his educating tactics, and his own and specialist interests.

All 32 of Miller’s sketchbooks are at present accessible on the CMA Archives’ digital collections. Also obtainable to perspective are thorough renderings of his rings and pendants, pictures from his visits to California and Antarctica, and photographs of his works from the May well Demonstrate selection.

The remainder of my internship focused on the archives’ August F. Biehle Selection, composed principally of sketch resources relating to several media and assignments throughout Biehle’s prolific job. A son of German immigrant and decorative artist August Biehle Sr. (also represented in the digital 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 training in Germany, Biehle returned to Cleveland just as it was achieving its peak of artistic innovation and began working at the Otis Lithograph Firm. Around the system of his vocation, he created incredible advertisements, murals, and paintings and turned just one of the most notable Cleveland university artists.

Biehle was also a member of the city’s preeminent eclectic art business, the Kokoon Arts Club. He brought with him both inventive expertise and inspiration, having seen an influential exhibition of Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), a German Expressionist team, in Munich in 1912. This informed Biehle’s individual modernist operates and, in switch, proved to be a stylistic influence for other club customers. The archives’ selection has a number of Kokoon Club objects, such as posters for club occasions, publication resources, and ticket layouts for the club’s well-known and lascivious balls. The Kokoon Club authorized Biehle to experiment with his formal creative schooling, and the interaction among the club’s flourishing modernists inspired him to delve into a variety of types, including the developing Artwork Deco and Cubism movements.

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

Of specific take note in the Biehle collection are sketch supplies relating to murals he produced for several notorious buildings throughout the city, such as the Kokoon Club, the Hofbräuhaus, and Herman Pirchner’s Alpine Village Theatre Cafe. These mural sketches, often rendered loosely in gouache on paper or board, are hanging not only because of their natural beauty but also simply because pretty couple visual data of the murals continue to be. The Kokoon club, for illustration, showcased numerous Biehle will work on its walls through its heyday. Having said that, immediately after the club’s decline and disbandment in 1956, Biehle’s murals were being demolished with the building. This is also accurate of his intensive operate in Pirchner’s Alpine Village, notably Biehle’s depictions of fantastical scenes and vintage times from opera and theater. His affect extended to the Eldorado Club earlier mentioned the restaurant, exactly where Pirchner hosted well-known friends. In 1996, having said that, that structure was razed as effectively. When there are some photographic data containing Biehle’s demolished mural operates, they are generally centered on society situations and the persons who frequented the spaces fairly than on the art itself. The sketch renderings of Biehle’s murals are some of the best remaining documentation of his existence during influential buildings in the metropolis.

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

Further than Cleveland, Biehle represents a marvelous encapsulation of the explosion of artistic innovation in the early 20th century. Stylistically adventurous, Biehle’s interests shifted above the training course of his career. He was a gifted ornamental artist, obtaining apprenticed beneath his father, and his lithographs ended up in direct discussion with other essential advertisers of his age. Biehle’s commercial works incorporate great experiments of his peers’ creations, these as several layouts for the Arrow Collar ads that designed American artist Joseph Christian Leyendecker (1874–1951) well known, as very well as quite a few observational scientific tests that display the depth of his official instruction. Biehle’s prints were being at the forefront of the shift from Art Nouveau to Artwork Deco. In the later on components of Biehle’s job, his paintings took on a putting Cubist type and were imbued with the dynamism of Futurism. His numerous skills make him an fantastic example of the power of Cleveland’s artistic scene at its peak.

Biehle’s other function incorporates a wide variety of vibrant painted landscapes influenced by Cubism. The CMA holds in its selection a person such portray as effectively as works on paper by the artist. To see the Biehle selection on line, remember to pay a visit to

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