Forms of Enchantment: Writings on Art and Artists By Marina Warner

Goodreads Synopsis: Art writing at its most useful should share the dynamism, fluidity, and passions of the objects of its enquiry, argues author Marina Warner in this new anthology. Here, some of Warner’s most compelling writing captures the visual experience of the work of a diverse group of artists—with a notable focus on the inner lives of women—through an exploration of the range of stories and symbols to which they allude in their work. Warner vividly describes this imagery, covering the connection with animals in the work of Louise Bourgeois, the Catholicism of Damien Hirst, performance as a medium of memory in the installations of Joan Jonas, and more.

Rather than drawing on connoisseurship, Warner’s approach grows principally out of anthropology and mythology. Accompanied by illustrations of the works being described, Marina Warner’s writing unites the imagination of artist, writer, and reader, creating a reading experience that parallels the intrinsic pleasure of looking at art. This book will appeal to any student of art history, those interested in philosophy, feminism, and more generally in the humanities.

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“The artist’s quest is a form of pilgrimage…”

Myth and childhood, dreams and desires, the unveiling of artists. Marina Warner’s book was a revelation for me in many ways. I decided to pick up this book after being introduced to Warner in a Literature and Gender class. I watched her talk at Google and was fascinated by her vast knowledge of stories and old wives tales. So I went poking around my school’s library to find works by Warner and this is the book I found.

Reading Forms of Enchantment gave me a greater appreciation for the analysis of art. The way that Warner looks at art and artists is inspiring. She gets to the heart of artistic work and pulls together related works to form a narrative of enchantment. Reading her book truly felt like stepping into a different world, one where artistic vision equaled magic. A lot of these artists I had never heard of and I loved that reading this book gave me so many people to look into.

I would highly recommend Warner’s book to you all if you enjoy reading about art. I gave the book four stars on Goodreads.

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