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 perform included quite a few assignments, from updating metadata to scanning textbooks for the Internet Archive, but substantially of my time was committed to digitizing artists’ collections in the archives. The initially products I scanned were John Paul Miller’s sketchbooks.

Miller (1918–2013) was a renowned Cleveland jeweler. Having graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Artwork (CIA), he returned soon after Army provider in Entire world War II to sign up for the school’s workers as a professor. At the similar time, he commenced making items for local jewellery store Potter & Mellen. Though Miller was educated in industrial structure and used his career concentrated on jewellery, he also harbored a deep enjoy for watercolor and manufactured each images of his travels and a selection of video clip resources. In the course of his tenure at the CIA, lasting extra than 40 years, he taught all these topics. Miller’s work has been acquired by several private collectors as effectively as by the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) and the Renwick Gallery, among the other individuals.

Miller is recognized for his use of granulation, a method ideal recognized from archaeological jewelry. By way of the granulation course of action, tiny beads of metal are affixed to a larger kind without soldering. Miller utilized granulation to build hugely sophisticated area textures and styles. Focusing on each geometric abstractions and practical animal and insect varieties, Miller’s use of granulation lends his entire body of perform an over-all stylistic coherence, weaving a modernist aesthetic into organic surfaces. His sketchbooks are filled with repetitive drawings, where Miller plays with the variety of the granulation sample. Because Miller’s sketches are rather shut in measurement to his final solutions, there are numerous pieces in the CMA’s assortment, in the archives’ May Demonstrate documents, and in other art galleries that can be matched nearly accurately to these webpages.

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

Miller’s sketchbooks augment his system of perform with comprehensive notes on development, which include experimental notes built in the workshop. Quite a few are crammed with metallic dust, and even compact scraps of discarded gold, suggesting that they lived on his workbench and that designs ended up subject matter to revision for the duration of output. In one particular instance, Miller wrote out directions for a quick movie subsequent the development of just one of his pieces, leaving at the rear of a meticulous history of his process. Alongside with costs and other info, the within addresses regularly have a record of names or titles indicating which performs of his were commissioned, created for a particular show, or developed in collection. Inside sketchbook 19, there is also a prolonged handwritten insurance policies appraisal detailing the trivialities of a piece’s design, from components to techniques. All of this is relevant to potential collectors and conservators of Miller’s do the job, but it also preserves his considerable know-how of metalworking and could most likely serve as a teaching assist. Miller’s sketchbooks have a wealth of facts about his pieces, his training tactics, and his particular and experienced pursuits.

All 32 of Miller’s sketchbooks are now accessible on the CMA Archives’ digital collections. Also obtainable to check out are in depth renderings of his rings and pendants, photographs from his trips to California and Antarctica, and visuals of his performs from the May well Clearly show assortment.

The remainder of my internship targeted on the archives’ August F. Biehle Assortment, composed generally of sketch supplies relating to many media and assignments throughout 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 creative character in the early 20th century. Soon after completing his artwork instruction in Germany, Biehle returned to Cleveland just as it was achieving its peak of inventive innovation and commenced functioning at the Otis Lithograph Business. Over the training course of his profession, he created incredible adverts, murals, and paintings and became one of the most distinguished Cleveland school artists.

Biehle was also a member of the city’s preeminent eclectic artwork organization, the Kokoon Arts Club. He brought with him both of those inventive expertise and inspiration, acquiring viewed an influential exhibition of Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), a German Expressionist team, in Munich in 1912. This knowledgeable Biehle’s very own modernist works and, in change, proved to be a stylistic affect for other club associates. The archives’ selection has a range of Kokoon Club objects, like posters for club activities, publication components, and ticket layouts for the club’s well known and lascivious balls. The Kokoon Club allowed Biehle to experiment with his official inventive teaching, and the conversation in between the club’s flourishing modernists inspired him to delve into a wide variety of kinds, which include the creating Artwork Deco and Cubism actions.

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

Of certain notice in the Biehle collection are sketch components relating to murals he created for a number of notorious properties throughout the city, which includes the Kokoon Club, the Hofbräuhaus, and Herman Pirchner’s Alpine Village Theatre Restaurant. These mural sketches, generally rendered loosely in gouache on paper or board, are hanging not only due to the fact of their beauty but also for the reason that really few visible documents of the murals continue to be. The Kokoon club, for case in point, highlighted quite a few Biehle operates on its partitions in the course of its heyday. Even so, following the club’s decline and disbandment in 1956, Biehle’s murals had been demolished with the building. This is also correct of his considerable operate in Pirchner’s Alpine Village, notably Biehle’s depictions of fantastical scenes and vintage moments from opera and theater. His affect prolonged to the Eldorado Club earlier mentioned the cafe, exactly where Pirchner hosted famous guests. In 1996, however, that structure was razed as well. While there are some photographic records made up of Biehle’s demolished mural works, they are often centered on modern society situations and the persons who frequented the areas relatively than on the artwork by itself. The sketch renderings of Biehle’s murals are some of the finest remaining documentation of his existence throughout influential properties in the town.

Sketch for mural — opera cycle, “Siegfried” created 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 creative innovation in the early 20th century. Stylistically adventurous, Biehle’s passions shifted above the course of his occupation. He was a talented attractive artist, acquiring apprenticed less than his father, and his lithographs were in direct conversation with other vital advertisers of his age. Biehle’s industrial works incorporate great research of his peers’ creations, this kind of as quite a few layouts for the Arrow Collar adverts that made American artist Joseph Christian Leyendecker (1874–1951) famed, as well as a number of observational studies that demonstrate the depth of his formal schooling. Biehle’s prints ended up at the forefront of the shift from Art Nouveau to Artwork Deco. In the later on areas of Biehle’s vocation, his paintings took on a hanging Cubist design and style and had been imbued with the dynamism of Futurism. His lots of talents make him an superb example of the toughness of Cleveland’s inventive scene at its height.

Biehle’s other perform features a range of vibrant painted landscapes impressed by Cubism. The CMA holds in its collection a person these types of portray as nicely as functions on paper by the artist. To see the Biehle selection on the web, you should pay a visit to

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