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

Janice K. Johnson

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 function involved numerous jobs, from updating metadata to scanning publications for the World wide web Archive, but a great deal of my time was dedicated to digitizing artists’ collections in the archives. The initial materials I scanned were being John Paul Miller’s sketchbooks.

Miller (1918–2013) was a renowned Cleveland jeweler. Having graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA), he returned right after Army provider in Environment War II to be part of the school’s staff members as a professor. At the exact same time, he started developing parts for local jewellery shop Potter & Mellen. Nevertheless Miller was qualified in industrial style and invested his profession centered on jewelry, he also harbored a deep adore for watercolor and created equally photos of his travels and a selection of online video materials. During his tenure at the CIA, lasting extra than 40 years, he taught all these topics. Miller’s function has been obtained by several personal 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 method most effective identified from archaeological jewelry. Via the granulation approach, very small beads of metallic are affixed to a bigger form without soldering. Miller used granulation to generate highly difficult surface area textures and styles. Concentrating on equally geometric abstractions and real looking animal and insect sorts, Miller’s use of granulation lends his entire body of function an general stylistic coherence, weaving a modernist aesthetic into organic surfaces. His sketchbooks are filled with repetitive drawings, in which Miller plays with the sort of the granulation pattern. Simply because Miller’s sketches are somewhat near in measurement to his remaining items, there are many parts in the CMA’s selection, in the archives’ May perhaps Demonstrate documents, and in other art galleries that can be matched virtually specifically to these pages.

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

Miller’s sketchbooks increase his body of function with specific notes on development, which include experimental notes designed in the workshop. Various are stuffed with metallic dust, and even modest scraps of discarded gold, suggesting that they lived on his workbench and that layouts had been subject to revision in the course of creation. In a single instance, Miller wrote out directions for a quick film following the development of one particular of his items, leaving at the rear of a meticulous history of his process. Along with selling prices and other information, the inside of covers usually have a list of names or titles indicating which operates of his were being commissioned, developed for a individual exhibit, or created in series. Inside sketchbook 19, there is also a prolonged handwritten insurance plan appraisal detailing the trivialities of a piece’s development, from elements to procedures. All of this is appropriate to potential collectors and conservators of Miller’s work, but it also preserves his considerable awareness of metalworking and could perhaps serve as a teaching support. Miller’s sketchbooks consist of a prosperity of info about his items, his teaching practices, and his particular and specialist interests.

All 32 of Miller’s sketchbooks are presently readily available on the CMA Archives’ electronic collections. Also accessible to perspective are specific renderings of his rings and pendants, photographs from his journeys to California and Antarctica, and photographs of his will work from the May possibly Show collection.

The remainder of my internship concentrated on the archives’ August F. Biehle Assortment, composed principally of sketch components relating to various media and tasks throughout Biehle’s prolific career. 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. Just after completing his art instruction in Germany, Biehle returned to Cleveland just as it was reaching its peak of inventive innovation and started working at the Otis Lithograph Enterprise. About the study course of his vocation, he made incredible ads, murals, and paintings and turned a single of the most distinguished Cleveland college artists.

Biehle was also a member of the city’s preeminent eclectic art business, the Kokoon Arts Club. He brought with him each creative talent and inspiration, owning viewed an influential exhibition of Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), a German Expressionist group, in Munich in 1912. This educated Biehle’s personal modernist performs and, in transform, proved to be a stylistic affect for other club members. The archives’ selection has a amount of Kokoon Club objects, which includes posters for club events, publication supplies, and ticket models for the club’s famous and lascivious balls. The Kokoon Club permitted Biehle to experiment with his formal creative education, and the conversation between the club’s flourishing modernists inspired him to delve into a range of models, which includes the developing Art Deco and Cubism movements.

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

Of individual notice in the Biehle assortment are sketch materials relating to murals he developed for many notorious structures throughout the metropolis, which include the Kokoon Club, the Hofbräuhaus, and Herman Pirchner’s Alpine Village Theatre Restaurant. These mural sketches, often rendered loosely in gouache on paper or board, are putting not only due to the fact of their attractiveness but also simply because incredibly few visible information of the murals remain. The Kokoon club, for illustration, featured a number of Biehle is effective on its partitions through its heyday. Nevertheless, following the club’s drop and disbandment in 1956, Biehle’s murals had been demolished with the building. This is also real of his extensive work in Pirchner’s Alpine Village, notably Biehle’s depictions of fantastical scenes and classic times from opera and theater. His affect prolonged to the Eldorado Club above the restaurant, the place Pirchner hosted well-known attendees. In 1996, nonetheless, that construction was razed as very well. Though there are some photographic data containing Biehle’s demolished mural performs, they are usually targeted on culture events and the persons who frequented the spaces instead than on the artwork by itself. The sketch renderings of Biehle’s murals are some of the greatest remaining documentation of his presence all over influential structures in the metropolis.

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

Outside of Cleveland, Biehle represents a great encapsulation of the explosion of inventive innovation in the early 20th century. Stylistically adventurous, Biehle’s pursuits shifted more than the program of his occupation. He was a proficient attractive artist, getting apprenticed underneath his father, and his lithographs had been in direct dialogue with other essential advertisers of his age. Biehle’s commercial operates consist of superb research of his peers’ creations, these types of as many layouts for the Arrow Collar advertisements that manufactured American artist Joseph Christian Leyendecker (1874–1951) renowned, as properly as quite a few observational experiments that exhibit the depth of his official coaching. Biehle’s prints had been at the forefront of the change from Art Nouveau to Art Deco. In the afterwards parts of Biehle’s vocation, his paintings took on a striking Cubist design and ended up imbued with the dynamism of Futurism. His several skills make him an great case in point of the strength of Cleveland’s artistic scene at its peak.

Biehle’s other function involves a wide range of colorful painted landscapes motivated by Cubism. The CMA holds in its collection a single such portray as very well as works on paper by the artist. To see the Biehle selection online, make sure you go to https://digitalarchives.clevelandart.org/electronic/selection/p17142coll15.

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