Grandville's early surrealist French illustrations

Remember that kid's book series Animorphs? With the really cheesy covers? Kids turning into hawks and starfish from the deepest depths of the uncanny valley? The little flipbooks in the corner? These are corny antiques from the late 90s, goofy illustrations of a goofy idea. I like them for their novelty, but what if they were drawn well, and conceptually stranger, but in a thoughtful way?

J.J. Grandville depicts transmutations of objects into animals into other objects. Sort of a precursor to animation, but rendered in that olde style that tells of years and years of thinking and heavy schooling. Grandville's early published work focused on political satire, but following the French government's heavy censorship, he began working on illustrations of imaginative flight n' fancy.

Other pieces, rendered with the careful precision of an anatomical drawing, depict man's evolution (devolution?) into animals.

Strange. Cool.

His other work is equally engaging, often political, always visually interesting. Grandville's work predates the surrealist movement by decades. Though well-respected in his professional life, Baudelaire found him disturbing.

There are superficial people whom Grandville amuses, but as for me, he frightens me. When I enter into Grandville's work, I feel a certain discomfort, like in an apartment where disorder is systematically organized, where bizarre cornices rest on the floor, where paintings seem distorted by an optic lens, where objects are deformed by being shoved together at odd angles, where furniture has its feet in the air, and where drawers push in instead of pulling out.

Charles Baudelaire, "Quelque caricaturistes françaises"

Previously: Great new Lowbrow art book: Pop Surrealism