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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 summer months, I joined the Ingalls Library and Museum Archives as a digitization intern. My function concerned a number of tasks, from updating metadata to scanning textbooks for the Net Archive, but much of my time was dedicated to digitizing artists’ collections in the archives. The very first materials I scanned ended up 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 company in Globe War II to join the school’s employees as a professor. At the similar time, he started producing parts for community jewellery store Potter & Mellen. Although Miller was qualified in industrial layout and used his profession concentrated on jewelry, he also harbored a deep enjoy for watercolor and generated the two pictures of his travels and a selection of movie supplies. During his tenure at the CIA, lasting more than 40 years, he taught all these subjects. Miller’s get the job done has been acquired by various personal collectors as very well as by the Cleveland Museum of Artwork (CMA) and the Renwick Gallery, amongst others.

Miller is identified for his use of granulation, a strategy very best acknowledged from archaeological jewellery. By the granulation method, tiny beads of metallic are affixed to a bigger variety devoid of soldering. Miller employed granulation to produce remarkably complex floor textures and patterns. Concentrating on both equally geometric abstractions and sensible animal and insect types, Miller’s use of granulation lends his body of operate an over-all stylistic coherence, weaving a modernist aesthetic into purely natural surfaces. His sketchbooks are stuffed with repetitive drawings, wherever Miller plays with the sort of the granulation pattern. Simply because Miller’s sketches are reasonably near in sizing to his last merchandise, there are many pieces in the CMA’s collection, in the archives’ May well Clearly show data, and in other artwork galleries that can be matched practically precisely 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. Picture 5562, Cleveland Museum of Artwork Archives. This artwork is recognised to be beneath copyright.

Miller’s sketchbooks increase his body of get the job done with comprehensive notes on development, which includes experimental notes produced in the workshop. Quite a few are loaded with steel dust, and even little scraps of discarded gold, suggesting that they lived on his workbench and that patterns were being issue to revision through output. In a single instance, Miller wrote out instructions for a short movie next the generation of one particular of his pieces, leaving driving a meticulous record of his approach. Together with selling prices and other information, the within handles commonly have a listing of names or titles indicating which will work of his ended up commissioned, made for a distinct clearly show, or developed in series. Inside sketchbook 19, there is also a prolonged handwritten insurance appraisal detailing the trivialities of a piece’s building, from components to strategies. All of this is applicable to foreseeable future collectors and conservators of Miller’s operate, but it also preserves his substantial awareness of metalworking and could potentially serve as a training support. Miller’s sketchbooks incorporate a wealth of info about his parts, his instructing tactics, and his personalized and specialist passions.

All 32 of Miller’s sketchbooks are presently obtainable on the CMA Archives’ digital collections. Also obtainable to perspective are detailed renderings of his rings and pendants, photographs from his journeys to California and Antarctica, and pictures of his operates from the May well Demonstrate assortment.

The remainder of my internship centered on the archives’ August F. Biehle Collection, composed generally of sketch products relating to different media and projects all over Biehle’s prolific job. A son of German immigrant and attractive artist August Biehle Sr. (also represented in the digital archives), Biehle (1885–1979) was a Clevelander who contributed immensely to the city’s booming inventive character in the early 20th century. After completing his artwork education and learning in Germany, Biehle returned to Cleveland just as it was reaching its peak of artistic innovation and began doing the job at the Otis Lithograph Corporation. In excess of the study course of his vocation, he manufactured incredible advertisements, murals, and paintings and turned a single of the most distinguished Cleveland school artists.

Biehle was also a member of the city’s preeminent eclectic art business, the Kokoon Arts Club. He brought with him each artistic talent and inspiration, obtaining considered an influential exhibition of Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), a German Expressionist team, in Munich in 1912. This informed Biehle’s have modernist is effective and, in transform, proved to be a stylistic impact for other club associates. The archives’ assortment has a range of Kokoon Club objects, which includes posters for club events, publication resources, and ticket styles for the club’s renowned and lascivious balls. The Kokoon Club permitted Biehle to experiment with his formal creative schooling, and the interaction concerning the club’s flourishing modernists encouraged him to delve into a wide variety of designs, which includes the building Art Deco and Cubism movements.

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

Of individual observe in the Biehle collection are sketch elements relating to murals he produced for various notorious properties across the city, which include the Kokoon Club, the Hofbräuhaus, and Herman Pirchner’s Alpine Village Theatre Cafe. These mural sketches, frequently rendered loosely in gouache on paper or board, are striking not only due to the fact of their elegance but also for the reason that extremely handful of visual records of the murals continue being. The Kokoon club, for illustration, highlighted a number of Biehle will work on its walls all through its heyday. However, immediately after the club’s decrease and disbandment in 1956, Biehle’s murals were being demolished with the making. This is also correct of his comprehensive work in Pirchner’s Alpine Village, notably Biehle’s depictions of fantastical scenes and basic times from opera and theater. His affect prolonged to the Eldorado Club above the restaurant, the place Pirchner hosted famous guests. In 1996, nevertheless, that construction was razed as nicely. Though there are some photographic documents containing Biehle’s demolished mural will work, they are usually focused on culture gatherings and the men and women who frequented the areas instead than on the artwork alone. The sketch renderings of Biehle’s murals are some of the most effective remaining documentation of his presence in the course of influential buildings in the town.

Sketch for mural — opera cycle, “Siegfried” composed 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 terrific encapsulation of the explosion of artistic innovation in the early 20th century. Stylistically adventurous, Biehle’s pursuits shifted about the class of his vocation. He was a talented ornamental artist, acquiring apprenticed beneath his father, and his lithographs were being in immediate conversation with other critical advertisers of his age. Biehle’s commercial performs contain fantastic studies of his peers’ creations, this sort of as numerous layouts for the Arrow Collar adverts that manufactured American artist Joseph Christian Leyendecker (1874–1951) well-known, as very well as quite a few observational reports that display the depth of his formal instruction. Biehle’s prints were at the forefront of the shift from Artwork Nouveau to Artwork Deco. In the afterwards sections of Biehle’s occupation, his paintings took on a placing Cubist fashion and have been imbued with the dynamism of Futurism. His numerous abilities make him an excellent instance of the energy of Cleveland’s creative scene at its height.

Biehle’s other operate consists of a range of vibrant painted landscapes impressed by Cubism. The CMA retains in its collection one particular this sort of portray as well as is effective on paper by the artist. To see the Biehle assortment on the net, make sure you stop by https://digitalarchives.clevelandart.org/digital/assortment/p17142coll15.