Charles August Albert Dellschau (4 June 1830 Prussia – 20 April 1923 Texas) was an American artist of Prussian birth.
Dellschau was a butcher by trade who, after his retirement in 1899, filled at least 13 notebooks with drawings, watercolor paintings and collages depicting fantastical airships. He lived and worked in an attic apartment in Houston, Texas. Dellschau's earliest known work is a diary dated 1899, and the latest is an 80-page book dated 1921-1922, giving his career as an artist a 21-year span. His work was in large part a record of the activities of the Sonora Aero Club, of which he was a purported member. Dellschau's writings describe the club as a secret group of flight enthusiasts who met at Sonora, California in the mid-19th century. One of the members had discovered the formula for an anti-gravity fuel he called "NB Gas." Their mission was to design and build the first navigable aircraft using the NB Gas for lift and propulsion. Dellschau called these flying machines Aeros. Dellschau does not claim to be a pilot of any of the airships; he identifies himself only as a draftsman for the Sonora Aero Club. His collages incorporate newspaper clippings (called "press blooms") of then-current news articles about aeronautical advances and disasters.
According to a coded story hidden throughout the drawings which made up his notebooks the Sonora Aero Club was a branch of a larger secret society known only as NYMZA. Despite exhaustive research, including searches of census records, voting rosters, and death records, nothing has been found to substantiate the existence of this group except for a few gravestones in the Columbia Cemetery where several of the surnames are found. It is speculated that, like Henry Darger's "Realms of the Unreal", the Sonora Aero Club is a complete fiction by Dellschau.
A Partial list of exhibitions
"Flight" - University of St. Thomas, Houston, Texas, 1969
"Wind In My Hair" - American Visionary Museum, 1996
"Aeronautical Notebooks" - Ricco Maresca Gallery, 1998
"Plots and Inventions" - Ramapo College, New Jersey, 2000
"Visionary Dreamers" - University of Syracuse, New York, 2002
"Flight or Fancy? The Secret Life of Charles A. A. Dellschau" - San Antonio Museum of
Art, Focus Gallery, 2002
"The Secret Life of Charles Dellschau" - San Antonio Museum, Menilo Museum, 2004
"Eye of the World: Miniature and Microcosm in the Art of the Self Taught" - Addison
Gallery of American Art, Pennsylvania, 2002
"American Self Taught from the High Museum" - High Museum Annex, 2005
"Dopes, Dupes, and Demagogues" - Louise Ross Gallery, 2004
"Create and Be Recognized: Photography on the Edge" - Southeastern Center for
Contemporary Art (SECCA), 2005
"Inner Worlds Outside" - Whitechapel Gallery, London, 2005
"Flights of Imagination" - Witte Museum, San Antonio, 2008
"ARTnow" contemporary art fair - Stephen Romano booth #21, New York NY, 2008
"Messages and Magic: Collage and Assemblage in American Art" - John Michael Kohler
Arts Center, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, 2008
"Artists Books Through Time: Vol. 1", Cavin Morris Gallery, New York, 2009
Museum of Everything, London, England. 2009 -
Museum of Everything, Pinacoteca Agnelli, Turin, Italy. 2010 -
"Outsider Art Fair" - Stephen Romano Booth #11, New York NY, 2011
Menil Collection, Houston, TX. "Seeing Stars: Visionary Drawing from the Collection"
September 23, 2011 - January 15, 2012
"All Things Round" - American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore, MD, 2011 - 2012
"Darker Stars: The Roots of Steampunk Art", Cavin Morris Gallery, New York, 2012
"Jubilation/Rumination: Life, Real and Imagined", American Folk Art Museum, 2012
"Collectors of Skies", curated by Valérie Rousseau and Barbara Safarova, Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York 2012
MUSEUM OF EVERYTHING - Chalet Society Paris France. 2012 - 2013
"The Metro Show" January 2013 Booth 201 Stephen Romano
"FARFETCHED--MAD SCIENCE, FRINGE ARCHITECTURE AND VISIONARY ENGINEERING" Gregg Museum Raleigh NC
PULSE NEW YORK Art Fair, Metro Pavillion, NYC May 2013
"RESTLESS II" Cavin Morris Gallery New York May 2013 - August 2013 "The Metro Show" January 2014 Booth 201 Stephen Romano Gallery "WELCOME TO THE DREAMTIME" STEPHEN ROMANO GALLERY, BROOKLYN NY 2014 "MYSTERIUM COSMOGRAPHICUM" STEPHEN ROMANO GALLERY, BROOKLYN NY 2014 "Abundantia Cornu Copiae, Breviter" STEPHEN ROMANO GALLERY, BROOKLYN NY 2015 "The Metro Show" January 2015 Booth 201 Stephen Romano Gallery
From The NEW YORK TIMES -
A. A. Dellschau (1830-1923), a German-born Texas butcher devoted his retirement
to making watercolor collages of beautifully striped flying machines.
First seen in New York at last year's Outsider Art Fair, his images define
a fleet of craft that, at their most recognizable, suggest eccentric balloons
or dirigibles, or flying carriages, and sometimes include pilots and passengers.
Framed by further stripes, as well as words, names and numbers, the drawings
intimate a universe almost as elaborate as Rizzoli's in a style reminiscent
of Monty Python.
is still fascinating about some of the best outsider art is the feeling
you have that fantasy has become so powerful as to eclipse what most people
take for reality. Charles A. A. Dellschau, a butcher in Texas, created
thousands of wonderfully fanciful pictures of Jules Verne-style flying
A. A. Dellschau (1830-1923), a butcher from Texas whose obsession with
flight yielded notebooks of double-sided watercolors that have the luminosity
of stained glass.
Entire article on Dellschau available for download here