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Forms of Enchantment: Writing on Art & Artists by Marina Warner investigates how artists noted for their treatment of disturbing, uncanny material have reached beyond the visible, to express interior states.

In this anthology of her most compelling essays, Marina Warner explores the layers of allusion, symbols and stories underlying art from the 16th to the 21st centuries. She makes the case for a uniquely writerly way of thinking with and about art and artists, setting out to share the dynamism, fluidity and passions of the objects of her enquiry.

Approaching art and artists primarily through the fields of anthropology, mythology and fairy tale, Warner argues for art’s place in society as a site of enchantment; a realm in which imagination holds the key to knowledge and understanding. Metamorphosis features vividly across the imagery, media and subject matter of the artworks selected, including work by Paula Rego and Damien Hirst, Louise Bourgeois, Tacita Dean and Hieronymus Bosch. This collection engages with artists – particularly women artists – noted for reaching beyond the visible and transforming a rich inner life into uncanny, sometimes disturbing matter.

Truly inspiring, Forms of Enchantment: Writing on Art & Artists unites the imagination of artist, writer and reader, creating a reading experience parallel to the intrinsic pleasure of looking at art.

  • Published by Thames and Hudson Ltd
  • Published 1 September 2018
  • 288 pages
  • Hardback

Marina Warner’s study of the Arabian Nights, Stranger Magic (2011) won the Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism and the Sheikh Zayed Book Award in 2013; in 2015 she was awarded the Holberg Prize in the Arts and Humanities and was made DBE. She is a Professor of English and Creative Writing at Birkbeck College, a Fellow of the British Academy and President of the Royal Society of Literature.