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 operate involved many assignments, from updating metadata to scanning textbooks for the Web Archive, but significantly of my time was committed to digitizing artists’ collections in the archives. The first elements 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 after Military service in Environment War II to be part of the school’s personnel as a professor. At the exact time, he began producing parts for local jewellery keep Potter & Mellen. Although Miller was qualified in industrial design and style and spent his profession targeted on jewelry, he also harbored a deep like for watercolor and produced equally photographs of his travels and a selection of video supplies. All through his tenure at the CIA, long lasting far more than 40 a long time, he taught all these subjects. Miller’s function has been acquired by various personal collectors as perfectly as by the Cleveland Museum of Artwork (CMA) and the Renwick Gallery, among the others.

Miller is regarded for his use of granulation, a technique greatest regarded from archaeological jewelry. Through the granulation course of action, little beads of metallic are affixed to a much larger form devoid of soldering. Miller utilized granulation to make highly sophisticated floor textures and patterns. Concentrating on both equally geometric abstractions and practical animal and insect sorts, Miller’s use of granulation lends his human body of function an total stylistic coherence, weaving a modernist aesthetic into all-natural surfaces. His sketchbooks are filled with repetitive drawings, exactly where Miller plays with the type of the granulation sample. Since Miller’s sketches are relatively close in dimensions to his final goods, there are lots of pieces in the CMA’s collection, in the archives’ May well Show documents, and in other artwork galleries that can be matched practically particularly to these web pages.

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

Miller’s sketchbooks increase his human body of operate with comprehensive notes on design, which includes experimental notes built in the workshop. Many are loaded with metallic dust, and even little scraps of discarded gold, suggesting that they lived on his workbench and that layouts were being issue to revision through generation. In 1 instance, Miller wrote out directions for a quick movie following the development of one of his items, leaving at the rear of a meticulous document of his approach. Together with charges and other information and facts, the inside of handles regularly have a record of names or titles indicating which performs of his have been commissioned, made for a certain demonstrate, or produced in sequence. In sketchbook 19, there is also a prolonged handwritten insurance policy appraisal detailing the trivialities of a piece’s design, from components to techniques. All of this is related to foreseeable future collectors and conservators of Miller’s get the job done, but it also preserves his extensive know-how of metalworking and could potentially provide as a training aid. Miller’s sketchbooks comprise a wealth of facts about his parts, his instructing practices, and his particular and professional interests.

All 32 of Miller’s sketchbooks are at the moment available on the CMA Archives’ digital collections. Also obtainable to perspective are comprehensive renderings of his rings and pendants, photographs from his visits to California and Antarctica, and photos of his operates from the Might Display collection.

The remainder of my internship targeted on the archives’ August F. Biehle Collection, composed generally of sketch resources relating to various media and tasks all through Biehle’s prolific vocation. A son of German immigrant and ornamental 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. Soon after completing his artwork training in Germany, Biehle returned to Cleveland just as it was reaching its peak of creative innovation and began operating at the Otis Lithograph Corporation. In excess of the system of his job, he created extraordinary commercials, murals, and paintings and turned a single of the most outstanding Cleveland university artists.

Biehle was also a member of the city’s preeminent eclectic artwork business, the Kokoon Arts Club. He brought with him both artistic expertise and inspiration, possessing seen an influential exhibition of Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), a German Expressionist group, in Munich in 1912. This educated Biehle’s have modernist is effective and, in switch, proved to be a stylistic impact for other club customers. The archives’ assortment has a number of Kokoon Club objects, which includes posters for club situations, publication components, and ticket patterns for the club’s well-known and lascivious balls. The Kokoon Club permitted Biehle to experiment with his formal artistic teaching, and the interaction concerning the club’s flourishing modernists inspired him to delve into a selection of styles, which includes the building Art Deco and Cubism actions.

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

Of certain take note in the Biehle selection are sketch materials relating to murals he made for a number of notorious structures across the town, including the Kokoon Club, the Hofbräuhaus, and Herman Pirchner’s Alpine Village Theatre Cafe. These mural sketches, generally rendered loosely in gouache on paper or board, are hanging not only for the reason that of their magnificence but also mainly because really couple visible data of the murals remain. The Kokoon club, for illustration, showcased various Biehle works on its partitions throughout its heyday. Nevertheless, after the club’s decline and disbandment in 1956, Biehle’s murals have been demolished with the setting up. This is also accurate of his substantial perform in Pirchner’s Alpine Village, notably Biehle’s depictions of fantastical scenes and common times from opera and theater. His impact prolonged to the Eldorado Club above the cafe, wherever Pirchner hosted well known company. In 1996, on the other hand, that structure was razed as nicely. While there are some photographic data containing Biehle’s demolished mural performs, they are frequently focused on culture functions and the people who frequented the spaces relatively than on the art by itself. The sketch renderings of Biehle’s murals are some of the finest remaining documentation of his presence all over influential properties in the town.

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

Past Cleveland, Biehle signifies a wonderful encapsulation of the explosion of artistic innovation in the early 20th century. Stylistically adventurous, Biehle’s pursuits shifted over the study course of his job. He was a proficient attractive artist, possessing apprenticed less than his father, and his lithographs were being in immediate discussion with other essential advertisers of his age. Biehle’s professional will work consist of superb reports of his peers’ creations, such as numerous layouts for the Arrow Collar advertisements that designed American artist Joseph Christian Leyendecker (1874–1951) popular, as very well as several observational experiments that demonstrate the depth of his formal education. Biehle’s prints were being at the forefront of the change from Art Nouveau to Artwork Deco. In the later on pieces of Biehle’s occupation, his paintings took on a putting Cubist fashion and were imbued with the dynamism of Futurism. His many abilities make him an fantastic case in point of the power of Cleveland’s creative scene at its top.

Biehle’s other work includes a wide variety of colourful painted landscapes encouraged by Cubism. The CMA retains in its collection 1 these painting as well as will work on paper by the artist. To see the Biehle selection on the net, be sure to pay a visit to