06 January 2015
Today, as the temperatures struggle to go beyond 17˚, I am looking at J.J. Grandville's Les Fleurs Animées. I was able to purchase this book for my husband at Christmas along with another featuring his amazing ink work. Grandville's characters and scenes border on the absurd but always have such an amazing accuracy of personality and expression.
J.J. Grandville was born at Nancy, in northeastern France, to an artistic and theatrical family. The name "Grandville" was his grandparents' professional stage name. Grandville received his first instruction in drawing from his father, a painter of miniatures. At the age of twenty-one he moved to Paris, and soon afterwards published collection of lithographs. Grandville's ability for political provocation made his work much in demand. He worked in a wide variety of formats, from his first job illustrating the parlor game Old Maid, to illustrated newspaper strips of which he was a master. One of Grandville's supreme achievements, at a time when French printing technology was ascendant, was Les Fleurs Animées, a series of images that are both poetic and satirical. But perhaps his most original contribution to the illustrated book form was L'Autre Monde, which approaches the status of pure surrealism, despite being conceived in a pre-Freudian age. Leading members of the Surrealist movement such as André Breton and Georges Bataille recognised in Grandville a significant precursor and inspiration for the movement. The rock band Queen used part of his artwork for the cover and backcover of their 1991 album Innuendo. Even they knew how awesome Grandville's work was!