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.
Inspiring and highly engaging, Forms of Enchantment unites the imaginations of artist, writer and reader, forging a reading experience which parallels the intrinsic pleasure of looking at art.
'Heady, thought-provoking stuff here: the author has a knack of taking initially complex subjects and making them accessible and reachable'
'What stands out in this work is the depth of [Warner’s] engagement: she does not simply look hard at each artist’s work but interrogates hard too. Her approach is more philosophical and psychological than art historical, and what draws her to her subjects is their storytelling'
'[These essays] offer a trove of insight and erudition, lightly worn as ever, and provide a vision of a new aesthetics that is refreshingly optimistic'
The Times Literary Supplement