Grandville’s Steampunk Orchestra 1844.

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Steampunk Orchestra: J.J. Grandville’s Proto-Surreal Images, 1844
I suspect that J.J. Grandville must be remembered as the proto-father of the proto-Surrealists, and probably more.
He was a very prolific illustrator during his short life (1803-1847), producing many images across a very wide field of imagination that would probably be referred to as speculative fiction.
Early in his stunted career he had some considerable influence as a satirical punisher in a number of superior-level magazines before a censorship law prohibiting such social observations criminalized that sort of imagination, and so Grandville moved on to illustrating some great classics in literature.
In 1844 Grandville (a pseudonym for Jean Ignace Isidore Gerard) published his (literally) fabulous Un Autre Monde, a very creative work of transformation and visionary exploration, which was a parody and critique of the worlds of the present and the possible.
Its sharp edge ha been lost to time as much as most any satire or caricature of a dusty political past might be (like farming jokes and James Buchanan in 1861), but when you look at the hundreds of illustrations for this work (as well as its underlying ideas) that is really all you need.
The images speak for themselves, and can speak to most anything, in any language.
This is one of the place where Grandville has writ his name large in the pre-history of Surrealism, an Andre Breton/Ernst Mach approach to lit and art about 70 years early.
The images are simply fantastic.
And you might be ready to see them–with modern eyes–when you read the subtitle head for his book, which reads so: Un Autre Monde/Transformations, Visions, Incarnations, ascensions, locomotions, explorations, peregrinations, excursions, stations [I’m not sure what this translate to], cosmogonies, fantasmagories, reveries, folatreries [“follies”], lubies [“fads”], metamorphoses, zoomorphie, lithomorphoses, metempsycoes, apotheos, et autre choses…
By the end of the title, the reader would suspect that something was “coming”.
Read on via Ptak Science Books: Steampunk Orchestra: J.J. Grandville’s Proto-Surreal Images, 1844.

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