There's a certain magic about cutaway illustrations- those lavishly drawn, cross-sectional images that let you peer inside the hold of a ship or the inner-workings of a factory as if you had x-ray vision. The art form had its heyday in the middle of the last century and has long been surpassed by more technologically sophisticated graphics. But as a delightful post last fall on the blog Messy Nessy Chic demonstrated, cutaways haven't lost their power to tantalize.
The post displayed a number of classic cutaway illustrations, most of which were published in popular magazines between the 1920s and the 1950s. In particular, it featured seven drawings by the influential commercial artist Frank Soltesz that were published as advertisements for the Armstrong Cork Company (now Armstrong World Industries) in the Saturday Evening Post. The illustrations showed cutaway views of ordinary places like a theater, an office building, a produce terminal, and a restaurant, in order to demonstrate the many uses for Armstrong's insulation products. Today, they still offer a thrillingly omniscient perspective, inviting your eyes to hop from room-to-room, and creating a sense of orchestrated mystery about everyday activity.
Images courtesy of Armstrong World Industries, Inc.
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