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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 summertime, I joined the Ingalls Library and Museum Archives as a digitization intern. My do the job associated many jobs, from updating metadata to scanning textbooks for the Net Archive, but substantially of my time was devoted to digitizing artists’ collections in the archives. The very first products I scanned were John Paul Miller’s sketchbooks.

Miller (1918–2013) was a renowned Cleveland jeweler. Possessing graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Artwork (CIA), he returned following Military support in Globe War II to sign up for the school’s personnel as a professor. At the identical time, he started manufacturing items for area jewelry store Potter & Mellen. However Miller was qualified in industrial layout and used his vocation focused on jewelry, he also harbored a deep appreciate for watercolor and manufactured both equally pictures of his travels and a assortment of movie materials. In the course of his tenure at the CIA, lasting a lot more than 40 yrs, he taught all these subjects. Miller’s operate has been acquired by quite a few private collectors as nicely as by the Cleveland Museum of Artwork (CMA) and the Renwick Gallery, among the many others.

Miller is known for his use of granulation, a procedure ideal acknowledged from archaeological jewelry. As a result of the granulation system, tiny beads of metallic are affixed to a larger sort without soldering. Miller employed granulation to make really sophisticated surface area textures and styles. Concentrating on equally geometric abstractions and sensible animal and insect sorts, Miller’s use of granulation lends his human body of do the job an general stylistic coherence, weaving a modernist aesthetic into purely natural surfaces. His sketchbooks are stuffed with repetitive drawings, wherever Miller plays with the variety of the granulation sample. Mainly because Miller’s sketches are somewhat close in size to his closing merchandise, there are several parts in the CMA’s collection, in the archives’ May possibly Exhibit data, and in other artwork galleries that can be matched almost accurately to these web pages.

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

Miller’s sketchbooks augment his physique of get the job done with comprehensive notes on design, like experimental notes produced in the workshop. A number of are filled with metallic dust, and even compact scraps of discarded gold, suggesting that they lived on his workbench and that styles have been issue to revision for the duration of creation. In 1 instance, Miller wrote out directions for a short movie pursuing the development of a person of his pieces, leaving powering a meticulous file of his method. Alongside with price ranges and other information, the inside of addresses regularly have a listing of names or titles indicating which operates of his had been commissioned, designed for a individual exhibit, or developed in series. Within sketchbook 19, there is also a prolonged handwritten insurance policies appraisal detailing the minutiae of a piece’s construction, from products to strategies. All of this is applicable to foreseeable future collectors and conservators of Miller’s function, but it also preserves his substantial know-how of metalworking and could perhaps provide as a instructing support. Miller’s sketchbooks incorporate a prosperity of information about his pieces, his training techniques, and his private and professional pursuits.

All 32 of Miller’s sketchbooks are at the moment out there on the CMA Archives’ digital collections. Also available to look at are in-depth renderings of his rings and pendants, photographs from his visits to California and Antarctica, and pictures of his functions from the May perhaps Exhibit assortment.

The remainder of my internship centered on the archives’ August F. Biehle Selection, composed generally of sketch materials relating to many media and projects in the course of Biehle’s prolific occupation. A son of German immigrant and decorative 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. Following completing his art instruction in Germany, Biehle returned to Cleveland just as it was reaching its peak of inventive innovation and began working at the Otis Lithograph Corporation. Around the program of his occupation, he produced amazing ads, murals, and paintings and turned one of the most popular Cleveland university artists.

Biehle was also a member of the city’s preeminent eclectic art firm, the Kokoon Arts Club. He brought with him each creative talent and inspiration, owning considered an influential exhibition of Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), a German Expressionist team, in Munich in 1912. This knowledgeable Biehle’s individual modernist performs and, in turn, proved to be a stylistic affect for other club users. The archives’ selection has a quantity of Kokoon Club objects, including posters for club events, publication resources, and ticket patterns for the club’s famous and lascivious balls. The Kokoon Club authorized Biehle to experiment with his official artistic education, and the interaction between the club’s flourishing modernists inspired him to delve into a selection of types, which includes the producing Artwork Deco and Cubism actions.

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

Of distinct notice in the Biehle collection are sketch elements relating to murals he created for numerous notorious properties throughout the town, such as the Kokoon Club, the Hofbräuhaus, and Herman Pirchner’s Alpine Village Theatre Restaurant. These mural sketches, frequently rendered loosely in gouache on paper or board, are striking not only mainly because of their attractiveness but also due to the fact pretty several visual information of the murals stay. The Kokoon club, for case in point, featured various Biehle works on its walls for the duration of its heyday. However, soon after the club’s decline and disbandment in 1956, Biehle’s murals have been demolished with the creating. This is also genuine of his substantial operate in Pirchner’s Alpine Village, notably Biehle’s depictions of fantastical scenes and common moments from opera and theater. His impact prolonged to the Eldorado Club over the restaurant, wherever Pirchner hosted well-known friends. In 1996, even so, that framework was razed as very well. Although there are some photographic records made up of Biehle’s demolished mural operates, they are typically targeted on modern society functions and the people who frequented the areas relatively than on the artwork alone. The sketch renderings of Biehle’s murals are some of the most effective remaining documentation of his existence throughout influential structures in the metropolis.

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

Outside of Cleveland, Biehle signifies a marvelous encapsulation of the explosion of artistic innovation in the early 20th century. Stylistically adventurous, Biehle’s pursuits shifted about the training course of his career. He was a talented decorative artist, having apprenticed below his father, and his lithographs were in direct conversation with other critical advertisers of his age. Biehle’s industrial is effective include things like wonderful experiments of his peers’ creations, this sort of as numerous layouts for the Arrow Collar ads that created American artist Joseph Christian Leyendecker (1874–1951) famed, as nicely as various observational scientific studies that display the depth of his formal schooling. Biehle’s prints were at the forefront of the shift from Artwork Nouveau to Art Deco. In the afterwards sections of Biehle’s job, his paintings took on a placing Cubist fashion and were imbued with the dynamism of Futurism. His several abilities make him an exceptional instance of the power of Cleveland’s creative scene at its height.

Biehle’s other operate includes a assortment of colourful painted landscapes motivated by Cubism. The CMA holds in its selection just one such painting as very well as operates on paper by the artist. To see the Biehle assortment on the internet, remember to stop by https://digitalarchives.clevelandart.org/digital/selection/p17142coll15.