Another World

Un Autre Monde-Grandville 1844
Un Autre Monde-J.J Grandville 1844

One of the acknowledged precursors of Surrealism, the work of French caricaturist J.J Grandville was featured in Documents magazine and is discussed at length in Walter Benjamin’s vast and fragmentary study of the urban redevelopment of Paris by Baron Haussmann, The Arcades Project (Passagen-Werk). He rose to fame in 1828 with Les Métamorphoses du jour, a book with seventy illustrations of animal heads transposed upon human bodies. However the book that really grabbed the Surrealists attention is Un Autre Monde (Another World), a strange and outlandish satire whose principal target would appear to be the ideas of the Utopian Socialist Charles Fourier.

His influence can be seen in another Surrealist favourite, John Tenniel, the political cartoonist for Punch magazine who famously illustrated the Alice books.

Below are a selection of illustrations from Un Autre Monde and other works.

Un Autre Monde-J.J Grandville-1844
Un Autre Monde-J.J Grandville-1844
Un Autre Monde-J.J Grandville 1844
Un Autre Monde-J.J Grandville 1844
Dream of Crime and Punishment-J.J Grandville 1847
Dream of Crime and Punishment-J.J Grandville 1847
Second Dream: A Stroll in the Sky-J.J Grandville 1847
Second Dream: A Stroll in the Sky-J.J Grandville 1847

35 thoughts on “Another World

  1. Oooh, those illustrations are marvellous… I’m especially fond of the last one of the mushroom turning into an umbrella, owl and eventually horse-drawn waggon. Seems pretty randomly assorted. Love it. Thank you for digging this out!

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  2. The illustrations are absolutely wonderful. I especially like the eye to the fish, and the mushroom to horse drawn carriage metamorphoses. Just my cup of tea. Thank you for sharing, Mr. Cake.

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      1. Weird but whimsical. I can imagine paging through such a collection over and over again. Finding a new detail each time or finding a previously unrealized connection to something else. I know how you love your connections!

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    1. Thank you Miss Cranes, amazing how I tenuously link everything to Surrealism, but this one is on somewhat surer footing. Walter Benjamin was one of the first critics to engage with Surrealism (he was ambiguous) and the Arcades Project is full of Grandville. Trust you are also well.

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  3. I am a great fan of Grandville, and I have several illustrated books with his work, in particular one with a facsimile reproduction of Un autre monde (in reduced size, to fit 4 pages in 1). The most interesting one is J. J. Grandville, Révolutionnaire et Précurseur de l’art du mouvement by Laure Garcin, published by Eric Losfeld / le Terrain Vague in 1970.
    The author claims that Grandville foretold his own death, which was unexpected by others, in particular his doctors. A few days before his death, he wrote a sentence looking like his epitaph, starting with “Ci-gît Grandville,” and the last illustration of Un autre monde is presented as a rebus, one can see in it the day and month of his death (March 17). At the end of Petites misères de la vie humaine (1843), a final drawing mixes several scenes, some autobiographical, in the last one (bottom right), a powerful wind blows printed works away, a woman tries to hold some of them, while a man tries to catch a winged hat, and on two works one read “Livraison 47” and “Livraison 49.” Garcin interprets the winged hat as death, the woman as his widow, and 47 as the year of Grandville’s death: 1847. Some of his posthumous works were indeed published in 1847 and 1849.

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