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

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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 operate involved many jobs, from updating metadata to scanning publications for the Internet Archive, but significantly of my time was devoted to digitizing artists’ collections in the archives. The first elements I scanned had been John Paul Miller’s sketchbooks.

Miller (1918–2013) was a renowned Cleveland jeweler. Acquiring graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA), he returned following Military service in World War II to join the school’s staff as a professor. At the very same time, he began developing pieces for nearby jewelry retail outlet Potter & Mellen. Although Miller was experienced in industrial style and expended his occupation focused on jewelry, he also harbored a deep enjoy for watercolor and created the two images of his travels and a assortment of movie products. Through his tenure at the CIA, lasting additional than 40 years, he taught all these subjects. Miller’s work has been acquired by various non-public collectors as perfectly as by the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) and the Renwick Gallery, between other individuals.

Miller is recognized for his use of granulation, a technique most effective identified from archaeological jewellery. Through the granulation procedure, small beads of metal are affixed to a larger variety without soldering. Miller used granulation to create extremely complex surface textures and styles. Concentrating on both of those geometric abstractions and reasonable animal and insect varieties, Miller’s use of granulation lends his overall body of perform an overall stylistic coherence, weaving a modernist aesthetic into natural surfaces. His sketchbooks are stuffed with repetitive drawings, the place Miller performs with the variety of the granulation sample. Due to the fact Miller’s sketches are rather shut in measurement to his remaining merchandise, there are many pieces in the CMA’s assortment, in the archives’ May possibly Display information, and in other artwork galleries that can be matched pretty much just to these internet 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 Artwork Archives. This artwork is regarded to be beneath copyright.

Miller’s sketchbooks increase his human body of get the job done with thorough notes on design, which include experimental notes manufactured in the workshop. Quite a few are stuffed with metal dust, and even tiny scraps of discarded gold, suggesting that they lived on his workbench and that models have been issue to revision during manufacturing. In one particular instance, Miller wrote out instructions for a small movie following the creation of a person of his parts, leaving powering a meticulous file of his method. Together with selling prices and other information, the inside of addresses often have a record of names or titles indicating which functions of his were being commissioned, produced for a distinct present, or developed in collection. Inside of sketchbook 19, there is also a prolonged handwritten insurance appraisal detailing the minutiae of a piece’s construction, from supplies to techniques. All of this is suitable to long term collectors and conservators of Miller’s get the job done, but it also preserves his substantial know-how of metalworking and could perhaps serve as a instructing aid. Miller’s sketchbooks include a prosperity of information and facts about his parts, his instructing procedures, and his personalized and expert interests.

All 32 of Miller’s sketchbooks are currently readily available on the CMA Archives’ electronic collections. Also readily available to watch are in-depth renderings of his rings and pendants, photographs from his journeys to California and Antarctica, and visuals of his works from the May possibly Display collection.

The remainder of my internship focused on the archives’ August F. Biehle Assortment, composed mainly of sketch elements relating to various media and assignments in the course of Biehle’s prolific vocation. 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 artistic character in the early 20th century. After completing his art education and learning in Germany, Biehle returned to Cleveland just as it was reaching its peak of inventive innovation and started doing work at the Otis Lithograph Business. Around the program of his career, he produced remarkable advertisements, murals, and paintings and became one of the most outstanding Cleveland college artists.

Biehle was also a member of the city’s preeminent eclectic art firm, the Kokoon Arts Club. He introduced with him the two creative expertise and inspiration, owning considered an influential exhibition of Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), a German Expressionist group, in Munich in 1912. This informed Biehle’s individual modernist functions and, in switch, proved to be a stylistic influence for other club customers. The archives’ selection has a selection of Kokoon Club objects, which include posters for club occasions, publication products, and ticket models for the club’s well known and lascivious balls. The Kokoon Club authorized Biehle to experiment with his formal creative schooling, and the interaction involving the club’s flourishing modernists encouraged him to delve into a selection of types, together with the building Artwork Deco and Cubism movements.

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

Of distinct note in the Biehle assortment are sketch components relating to murals he developed for many infamous structures throughout the metropolis, which include the Kokoon Club, the Hofbräuhaus, and Herman Pirchner’s Alpine Village Theatre Restaurant. These mural sketches, usually rendered loosely in gouache on paper or board, are putting not only due to the fact of their beauty but also mainly because incredibly handful of visual data of the murals stay. The Kokoon club, for illustration, showcased various Biehle works on its partitions all through its heyday. Having said that, soon after the club’s drop and disbandment in 1956, Biehle’s murals were demolished with the developing. This is also correct of his considerable function in Pirchner’s Alpine Village, notably Biehle’s depictions of fantastical scenes and common times from opera and theater. His influence extended to the Eldorado Club earlier mentioned the cafe, the place Pirchner hosted renowned company. In 1996, nevertheless, that construction was razed as very well. Whilst there are some photographic documents containing Biehle’s demolished mural performs, they are often concentrated on modern society events and the people today who frequented the spaces rather than on the art itself. The sketch renderings of Biehle’s murals are some of the finest remaining documentation of his presence in the course of influential buildings in the city.

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

Past Cleveland, Biehle signifies a great encapsulation of the explosion of artistic innovation in the early 20th century. Stylistically adventurous, Biehle’s pursuits shifted about the class of his job. He was a gifted ornamental artist, owning apprenticed less than his father, and his lithographs had been in direct conversation with other important advertisers of his age. Biehle’s business will work incorporate great research of his peers’ creations, this kind of as quite a few layouts for the Arrow Collar ads that made American artist Joseph Christian Leyendecker (1874–1951) well known, as very well as several observational research that exhibit the depth of his official teaching. Biehle’s prints were at the forefront of the change from Artwork Nouveau to Artwork Deco. In the afterwards elements of Biehle’s profession, his paintings took on a hanging Cubist design and have been imbued with the dynamism of Futurism. His quite a few abilities make him an superb instance of the strength of Cleveland’s artistic scene at its height.

Biehle’s other perform includes a range of vibrant painted landscapes encouraged by Cubism. The CMA retains in its collection just one this kind of painting as very well as is effective on paper by the artist. To see the Biehle collection on-line, be sure to go to https://digitalarchives.clevelandart.org/electronic/assortment/p17142coll15.

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