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 season, I joined the Ingalls Library and Museum Archives as a digitization intern. My perform included quite a few jobs, from updating metadata to scanning books for the Online Archive, but a great deal of my time was dedicated to digitizing artists’ collections in the archives. The to start with supplies I scanned were John Paul Miller’s sketchbooks.
Miller (1918–2013) was a renowned Cleveland jeweler. Owning graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA), he returned immediately after Army assistance in Entire world War II to be part of the school’s staff as a professor. At the exact time, he began producing parts for community jewelry retail outlet Potter & Mellen. Though Miller was skilled in industrial design and spent his occupation targeted on jewellery, he also harbored a deep love for watercolor and made both equally images of his travels and a variety of movie products. During his tenure at the CIA, lasting a lot more than 40 several years, he taught all these subjects. Miller’s work has been obtained by several non-public collectors as properly as by the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) and the Renwick Gallery, among many others.
Miller is acknowledged for his use of granulation, a approach most effective regarded from archaeological jewelry. Through the granulation approach, very small beads of metal are affixed to a larger kind with out soldering. Miller employed granulation to create extremely complicated surface area textures and designs. Focusing on each geometric abstractions and realistic animal and insect varieties, Miller’s use of granulation lends his entire body of do the job an over-all stylistic coherence, weaving a modernist aesthetic into pure surfaces. His sketchbooks are loaded with repetitive drawings, wherever Miller plays with the kind of the granulation pattern. Because Miller’s sketches are relatively shut in dimension to his final products, there are a lot of items in the CMA’s selection, in the archives’ May possibly Display records, and in other artwork galleries that can be matched nearly specifically to these web pages.
Miller’s sketchbooks increase his physique of perform with thorough notes on building, such as experimental notes manufactured in the workshop. Quite a few are loaded with metal dust, and even compact scraps of discarded gold, suggesting that they lived on his workbench and that layouts were issue to revision for the duration of creation. In a person occasion, Miller wrote out instructions for a limited movie subsequent the generation of a person of his items, leaving at the rear of a meticulous file of his method. Alongside with costs and other data, the inside covers commonly have a record of names or titles indicating which works of his were commissioned, made for a certain exhibit, or made in collection. Within just sketchbook 19, there is also a prolonged handwritten insurance coverage appraisal detailing the trivia of a piece’s development, from components to approaches. All of this is appropriate to upcoming collectors and conservators of Miller’s perform, but it also preserves his extensive know-how of metalworking and could most likely serve as a instructing help. Miller’s sketchbooks have a wealth of facts about his pieces, his training tactics, and his personal and professional passions.
All 32 of Miller’s sketchbooks are presently out there on the CMA Archives’ electronic collections. Also available to perspective are comprehensive renderings of his rings and pendants, photographs from his journeys to California and Antarctica, and pictures of his operates from the May Clearly show assortment.
The remainder of my internship focused on the archives’ August F. Biehle Selection, composed generally of sketch resources relating to many media and jobs all through 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 artistic character in the early 20th century. Immediately after completing his artwork instruction in Germany, Biehle returned to Cleveland just as it was reaching its peak of artistic innovation and started working at the Otis Lithograph Firm. Over the study course of his profession, he manufactured amazing ads, murals, and paintings and became a single of the most notable Cleveland college artists.
Biehle was also a member of the city’s preeminent eclectic artwork corporation, the Kokoon Arts Club. He brought with him the two creative expertise and inspiration, having viewed an influential exhibition of Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), a German Expressionist team, in Munich in 1912. This knowledgeable Biehle’s own modernist works and, in switch, proved to be a stylistic influence for other club members. The archives’ collection has a range of Kokoon Club objects, which includes posters for club situations, publication components, and ticket patterns for the club’s popular and lascivious balls. The Kokoon Club permitted Biehle to experiment with his official creative instruction, and the interaction among the club’s flourishing modernists inspired him to delve into a variety of styles, together with the building Artwork Deco and Cubism actions.
Of specific be aware in the Biehle assortment are sketch components relating to murals he made for several infamous buildings throughout the city, such as the Kokoon Club, the Hofbräuhaus, and Herman Pirchner’s Alpine Village Theatre Restaurant. These mural sketches, normally rendered loosely in gouache on paper or board, are hanging not only for the reason that of their splendor but also because incredibly couple visual records of the murals continue being. The Kokoon club, for example, highlighted numerous Biehle functions on its walls in the course of its heyday. Even so, just after the club’s drop and disbandment in 1956, Biehle’s murals ended up demolished with the making. This is also legitimate of his considerable perform 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 previously mentioned the restaurant, exactly where Pirchner hosted popular guests. In 1996, however, that construction was razed as effectively. While there are some photographic records that contains Biehle’s demolished mural operates, they are frequently centered on modern society gatherings and the people who frequented the spaces instead than on the artwork alone. The sketch renderings of Biehle’s murals are some of the greatest remaining documentation of his existence during influential properties in the town.
Past Cleveland, Biehle signifies a marvelous encapsulation of the explosion of artistic innovation in the early 20th century. Stylistically adventurous, Biehle’s pursuits shifted over the study course of his career. He was a gifted decorative artist, acquiring apprenticed less than his father, and his lithographs had been in immediate conversation with other key advertisers of his age. Biehle’s industrial works consist of great experiments of his peers’ creations, these types of as quite a few layouts for the Arrow Collar adverts that made American artist Joseph Christian Leyendecker (1874–1951) renowned, as well as several observational studies that show the depth of his formal teaching. Biehle’s prints had been at the forefront of the change from Art Nouveau to Art Deco. In the later sections of Biehle’s profession, his paintings took on a hanging Cubist design and were imbued with the dynamism of Futurism. His quite a few abilities make him an exceptional example of the energy of Cleveland’s inventive scene at its top.
Biehle’s other perform consists of a assortment of vibrant painted landscapes inspired by Cubism. The CMA holds in its selection just one these painting as well as is effective on paper by the artist. To see the Biehle selection on line, you should take a look at https://digitalarchives.clevelandart.org/digital/selection/p17142coll15.