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 time, I joined the Ingalls Library and Museum Archives as a digitization intern. My function associated a number of projects, from updating metadata to scanning books for the World-wide-web Archive, but much of my time was devoted to digitizing artists’ collections in the archives. The 1st materials I scanned were being John Paul Miller’s sketchbooks.
Miller (1918–2013) was a renowned Cleveland jeweler. Owning graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Artwork (CIA), he returned just after Army company in Environment War II to join the school’s staff as a professor. At the exact time, he started producing items for nearby jewellery keep Potter & Mellen. Although Miller was qualified in industrial style and expended his profession centered on jewellery, he also harbored a deep like for watercolor and produced equally images of his travels and a range of movie materials. For the duration of his tenure at the CIA, long lasting much more than 40 yrs, he taught all these topics. Miller’s function has been acquired by numerous personal collectors as perfectly as by the Cleveland Museum of Artwork (CMA) and the Renwick Gallery, between many others.
Miller is identified for his use of granulation, a strategy best identified from archaeological jewelry. As a result of the granulation process, small beads of metallic are affixed to a much larger kind without having soldering. Miller used granulation to produce extremely challenging surface area textures and patterns. Focusing on both geometric abstractions and real looking animal and insect forms, Miller’s use of granulation lends his body of get the job done an total stylistic coherence, weaving a modernist aesthetic into purely natural surfaces. His sketchbooks are loaded with repetitive drawings, where Miller plays with the form of the granulation sample. For the reason that Miller’s sketches are relatively near in dimension to his last goods, there are numerous items in the CMA’s assortment, in the archives’ May Present information, and in other artwork galleries that can be matched pretty much accurately to these internet pages.
Miller’s sketchbooks augment his body of do the job with comprehensive notes on construction, including experimental notes created in the workshop. A number of are stuffed with steel dust, and even compact scraps of discarded gold, suggesting that they lived on his workbench and that designs were being issue to revision during manufacturing. In one particular instance, Miller wrote out instructions for a small film subsequent the creation of one of his parts, leaving driving a meticulous history of his process. Along with price ranges and other facts, the inside of addresses regularly have a listing of names or titles indicating which will work of his were being commissioned, produced for a distinct exhibit, or manufactured in sequence. In just sketchbook 19, there is also a prolonged handwritten coverage appraisal detailing the minutiae of a piece’s building, from materials to methods. All of this is pertinent to future collectors and conservators of Miller’s work, but it also preserves his considerable know-how of metalworking and could most likely serve as a educating aid. Miller’s sketchbooks have a wealth of data about his pieces, his training techniques, and his private and specialist pursuits.
All 32 of Miller’s sketchbooks are at present accessible on the CMA Archives’ digital collections. Also available to check out are thorough renderings of his rings and pendants, photographs from his excursions to California and Antarctica, and visuals of his works from the May possibly Show selection.
The remainder of my internship centered on the archives’ August F. Biehle Collection, composed primarily of sketch products relating to many media and projects in the course of Biehle’s prolific career. A son of German immigrant and ornamental 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. Following finishing his artwork education in Germany, Biehle returned to Cleveland just as it was reaching its peak of creative innovation and started functioning at the Otis Lithograph Organization. Around the class of his profession, he made amazing adverts, murals, and paintings and turned one of the most notable Cleveland school artists.
Biehle was also a member of the city’s preeminent eclectic art business, the Kokoon Arts Club. He introduced with him both of those inventive expertise and inspiration, possessing viewed an influential exhibition of Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), a German Expressionist group, in Munich in 1912. This knowledgeable Biehle’s own modernist works and, in transform, proved to be a stylistic impact for other club associates. The archives’ collection has a variety of Kokoon Club objects, including posters for club gatherings, publication elements, and ticket styles for the club’s famed and lascivious balls. The Kokoon Club authorized Biehle to experiment with his formal artistic coaching, and the interaction involving the club’s flourishing modernists inspired him to delve into a wide range of styles, which includes the producing Art Deco and Cubism movements.
Of unique note in the Biehle assortment are sketch components relating to murals he generated for various notorious properties across the town, together with 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 striking not only because of their beauty but also because quite handful of visible information of the murals keep on being. The Kokoon club, for case in point, featured several Biehle performs on its partitions for the duration of its heyday. Even so, after the club’s decline and disbandment in 1956, Biehle’s murals have been demolished with the developing. This is also legitimate of his substantial operate in Pirchner’s Alpine Village, notably Biehle’s depictions of fantastical scenes and typical times from opera and theater. His affect extended to the Eldorado Club over the restaurant, exactly where Pirchner hosted famed guests. In 1996, on the other hand, that composition was razed as perfectly. When there are some photographic records that contains Biehle’s demolished mural operates, they are normally concentrated on modern society occasions and the men and women who frequented the areas instead than on the artwork by itself. The sketch renderings of Biehle’s murals are some of the ideal remaining documentation of his existence during influential properties in the metropolis.
Past Cleveland, Biehle signifies a wonderful encapsulation of the explosion of inventive innovation in the early 20th century. Stylistically adventurous, Biehle’s passions shifted more than the system of his vocation. He was a gifted attractive artist, having apprenticed below his father, and his lithographs ended up in immediate dialogue with other vital advertisers of his age. Biehle’s business is effective include wonderful reports of his peers’ creations, these as numerous layouts for the Arrow Collar ads that produced American artist Joseph Christian Leyendecker (1874–1951) popular, as nicely as several observational experiments that demonstrate the depth of his formal coaching. Biehle’s prints ended up at the forefront of the shift from Artwork Nouveau to Art Deco. In the later on pieces of Biehle’s occupation, his paintings took on a putting Cubist design and style and had been imbued with the dynamism of Futurism. His quite a few abilities make him an superb illustration of the strength of Cleveland’s inventive scene at its peak.
Biehle’s other operate consists of a assortment of vibrant painted landscapes encouraged by Cubism. The CMA holds in its collection one particular these kinds of portray as very well as performs on paper by the artist. To see the Biehle selection on the internet, please stop by https://digitalarchives.clevelandart.org/electronic/collection/p17142coll15.