It can be easy to forget just how mind-blowing the idea of air travel was to everyday people at the turn of the 20th century. A recent article on art blog Hyperallergic offers a peek inside the mind of one particularly imaginative aviation enthusiast and amateur artist, who is a fascinating figure himself. Retired Houston butcher Charles A.A. Dellschau began creating his brightly-colored illustrations of intricate flying machines in 1899, at the age of 68.
Dellschau continued to let his imagination run wild on paper until his death in 1923, at the age of 93. Over the course of his career as an outsider artist--during which he created almost 2,500 of these trippy images--aviation technology advanced considerably. Dellschau made sure to stay on top of new developments in flight:
As whimsical as some of these contraptions appear — especially rendered in such striking colors — they are rooted in Dellschau’s keen following of the serious ongoings in the real world of aeronautics that stretched beyond his isolated drawing room. The particular paper clippings he chose from Houston Daily Post, Houston Chronicle, Houston Press, and Scientific American show he was up-to-date with the latest relevant inventions, looked up to aviators from the Wright Brothers to Louis Paulhan, and followed events from landmark journeys to aerial accidents to air races. Many of his drawings, for instance, combine parts of hot air balloons, biplanes, and zeppelins — crafts that underwent much tinkling and testing while he was alive.
Read the rest, and check out the rest of the incredible images, over at the source.